Special to Iredell Free News

RALEIGH – The consent order between the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality, community and environmental groups, and Duke Energy regarding the excavation of nearly 80 million tons of coal ash was approved in its entirety on Wednesday by Wake County Superior Court Judge Paul Ridgeway.

The consent order covers the excavation of coal ash impoundments at the Allen, Belews Creek, Cliffside, Mayo, Marshall and Roxboro facilities under the terms of the settlement agreement signed on December 31, 2019.

The excavated ash will be placed in on-site, lined landfills. The entry of the consent order also triggers the end of all pending coal ash litigation between the parties.

“With this consent order, the cleanup of nearly 80 million tons of coal ash is now enforceable by the court. Communities living with the threat of coal ash pollution can be certain that the excavations will happen as promised,” said NCDEQ Secretary Michael S. Regan. “This closes the chapter on the outdated practice of storing coal ash in open, unlined pits in North Carolina and protects the public health and the environment.”

The public has the opportunity to weigh in on the closure plans for the six facilities in public meetings starting next week and during the open comment period for each facility. Details on the public meetings, closures plan documents and ways to comment are posted on the DEQ website.

Duke is required to excavate more than 76 million tons of coal ash from open, unlined impoundments at the six facilities. More than 3 million tons of non-impoundment coal ash will also be excavated.

Two facilities, Roxboro and Marshall, will be subject to additional protective measures for specific sections of impoundments that will remain under existing permitted landfills or structural fills. Protective measures will include stabilization requirements, surface water and groundwater monitoring, and any necessary remediation.

Under the Coal Ash Management Act, DEQ’s final action on the closure plans is due within 120 days of receipt of the complete closure plans. Within 60 days of approval, implementation of the plans must begin.

LEARN MORE

For more information visit https://deq.nc.gov/coal-ash-excavation.

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