EDEN, N.C. -- Duke Energy announced plans to build a fully lined coal ash landfill at its retired Dan River Steam Station in Eden.
Company officials say this decision has been months in the making.
Duke Energy has a large amount of coal ash that needs to be disposed. Currently, 2.6 million tons of coal ash are stored there -- but later this year, 1.2 million tons will be transported to Virginia. The remaining 1.4 million will be kept at the station and will be excavated at the planned landfill.
The company announced it will apply for permits this summer to start construction in 2016 and be operational in 2017.
The Coal Ash Management Act of 2014 requires that all ash in basins at the plant site to be fully excavated, with ash stored in a lined landfill or lined structural fill by August 2019.
This landfill announcement comes after a large coal ash spill in February 2014 that impacted people's drinking water in nearby areas.
Environmentalists say this landfill announcement is a step in the right direction of preventing future contamination problems, but urge officials with Duke Energy to move away from coal as an energy source and move towards solar energy.
Many residents who live near the planned site don't want the coal ash anywhere close to their communities. Residents want officials to monitor the excavation process closely when the landfill opens because they fear contamination.