State’s DEQ action far too late

North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality’s action on Dan River (Tuesday) is three years too late. For years, DEQ has known of the risks at the Dan River site, and in 2013, it publicly recognized Duke Energy’s illegal operation of the Dan River facility.

Yet, DEQ did nothing to require Duke Energy to address the risks at the Dan River site in 2013 or 2014 prior to the spill. DEQ admits that Duke Energy committed over 2000 violations of North Carolina law, which DEQ and Duke Energy failed to address prior to the Dan River spill. And it has taken DEQ two years to assess this fine for thousands of obvious violations of law.

And still today, at coal ash sites across North Carolina DEQ is not taking steps to require Duke Energy to adequately clean up its illegal coal ash pollution by moving its ash to safe, dry, lined storage.

What we need from DEQ is fewer press releases and more work to require removal of coal ash from leaking, unlined, dangerous, waterfront storage sites like Dan River. The Dan River spill was entirely unnecessary, and this fine against a multi-billion dollar company does not solve any of the ongoing problems that continue to threaten North Carolina’s communities and clean water.

The Dan River spill could have been prevented by DEQ and Duke Energy, and we do not want another Dan River spill anywhere in North Carolina.

The Southern Environmental Law Center represents the following citizens groups in court to clean up Duke Energy’s coal ash pollution from all 14 leaking Duke Energy sites across North Carolina: Appalachian Voices, Cape Fear Riverwatch, Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation, Dan River Basin Association, MountainTrue, Neuse Riverkeeper Foundation, Roanoke River Basin Association, Sierra Club, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, Waterkeeper Alliance, Winyah Rivers Foundation, and Yadkin Riverkeeper.

Frank Holleman

Senior attorney

Southern Environmental Law Center