DENR orders Duke Energy to halt discharges from second pipe under coal ash basin

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RALEIGH, N.C. — The N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources ordered Duke Energy late Tuesday afternoon to immediately halt discharges of material from a leaking 36-inch stormwater pipe beneath the coal ash basin in Eden where another stormwater pipe failed and caused a spill of coal ash into the Dan River.

DENR staff issued the order to Duke Energy Tuesday afternoon after initial tests the state agency conducted indicated the presence of elevated levels of arsenic. The elevated levels of arsenic are one of the key indicators of the presence of coal ash. DENR identified the unauthorized discharge during its ongoing investigation of the coal ash spill at the Dan River power plant in Eden.

“Given what we’ve seen, we’re concerned that this second stormwater pipe on site may also be leaking water contaminated with coal ash pollutants into the Dan River,” said Tom Reeder, director of the N.C. Division of Water Resources. “As such, we are ordering Duke Energy to eliminate this unauthorized discharge immediately.”

On Feb. 2, Duke Energy discovered a 48-inch reinforced concrete and corrugated steel stormwater pipe that was broken and released 30,000-to-39,000 tons of coal ash into the Dan River. The second 36-inch stormwater pipe came to DENR’s attention during its investigation.

DENR will evaluate this most recent violation in connection with all pending enforcement actions related to the coal ash spill.

The state agency will conduct additional sampling in order to characterize the impacts of this discharge to water quality in the Dan River.

DENR staff remains concerned about the cumulative impacts of coal ash on the Dan River and its possible long-term effects on aquatic life.

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