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Duke Energy agrees to pay $6 million for Dan River spill

Coal ash spills into the Dan River. (File photo)

Coal ash spills into the Dan River. (File photo)

RALEIGH, N.C. – The state environmental department on Friday reached a settlement with Duke Energy that holds the utility accountable for environmental violations related to the February 2014 coal ash spill at the company’s Dan River power plant in Eden.

The fine addresses violations of the federal clean drinking water law that the company committed during and after the Dan River spill.

“This is yet another example of the McCrory administration’s commitment to environmental protection,” said Secretary Donald van der Vaart, according to a prepared statement. “Unlike previous administrations, we will take enforcement actions against anyone that does not comply with the law so that we can prevent future environmental catastrophes.”

In February, state regulators fined the utility $6.8 million for the spill at Dan River. Duke Energy challenged the fine, which was the second largest for environmental violations in state history.

The $6 million settlement prevents the state from incurring additional legal costs associated with lengthy litigation and allows the state to focus all its resources on permanently closing coal ash ponds.

The settlement is in addition to Duke Energy’s obligations under the state coal ash law to excavate and close the Dan River facility’s coal ash ponds by August 1, 2019.

The utility is required to close all of its coal ash ponds by 2029 and provide permanent alternative water supplies to residents around coal ash facilities by the fall of 2018.

Under the North Carolina constitution, proceeds from today’s fine will go to a statewide fund for public schools.