Here’s the release in its entirety:
DEQ Orders Duke Energy to Excavate Coal Ash at Six Remaining Sites
Proposed Excavation Closure Plans due to DEQ for Approval on August 1, 2019
Raleigh—Today, N.C. Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) ordered Duke Energy Progress, LLC to excavate all remaining coal ash impoundments in North Carolina. After conducting a rigorous scientific review of Duke Energy’s proposals for Allen, Belews, Cliffside/Rogers, Marshall, Mayo and Roxboro facilities, and conducting public listening sessions in impacted communities, DEQ has determined excavation of all six sites is the only closure option that meets the requirements of Coal Ash Management Act to best protect public health. The coal ash must be disposed of in a lined landfill.
“DEQ rigorously reviewed the proposals, and the science points us clearly to excavation as the only way to protect public health and the environment,” said DEQ Secretary Michael S. Regan. “Today’s action sends another clear message that protecting public health and natural resources is a top priority of the Cooper Administration.”
Duke Energy must submit final excavation closure plans to DEQ by August 1, 2019. In those plans, Duke must propose where excavated coal ash will reside and estimate how long that process will take. By law, DEQ must reject any plan that does not protect public health and the environment.
Coal Ash Closure Next Steps
By August 1, 2019 Duke Energy is required to submit final closure plans consistent with the detailed requirements of the Coal Ash Management Act (CAMA) and based on the election made by DEQ on April 1, 2019 to excavate all remaining sites. Duke Energy will have the opportunity to propose beneficiation options (such as recycling) as well as full excavation in that proposal.
CAMA requires DEQ to review any Closure Plan for consistency with detailed requirements in CAMA and reject any proposed Closure Plan that DEQ finds does not meet these requirements. DEQ must find that a Closure Plan is protective of public health, safety, welfare, the environment and natural resources before a plan can be approved. By October 1, 2019 (within 60 days of receipt of a proposed Closure Plan), DEQ will conduct a public meeting in the county or counties in which the site is located, with at least a 30-day notice prior to meeting. By December 1, 2019 Duke Energy is required to submit corrective action plans for addressing groundwater contamination from the impoundments at all six sites.
For the full DEQ analysis and orders to excavate issued today, as well as the comments made earlier this year on Duke Energy’s proposed closure options and related documents, https://deq.nc.gov/coalashexcavation.