DEQ, Duke Energy, and SELC Announce Coal Ash Closure Agreement
The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), Duke Energy, and groups represented by the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) today announced the largest coal ash cleanup in the nation's history. The agreed plan calls for excavation of approximately 80 million tons of coal ash from nine impoundments at six facilities including two impoundments at the Allen Steam Station (Belmont, N.C.), two at the Cliffside Steam Station /Rogers Energy Complex (Mooresboro, N.C.), one at Belews Creek Steam Station (Belews Creek, N.C.), one at Mayo Steam Station (Roxboro, N.C.), two at the Roxboro Steam Station (Semora, N.C.), and one at Marshall Steam Station (Terrell, N.C.). The Roxboro and Marshall facilities also have previously capped ash basins containing 15 million tons each that will be closed in place under state regulation.
Duke Energy has completed or nearly completed excavation of 46 million tons of coal ash from 10 basins at the Asheville Plant, Dan River Plant (Eden, N.C.), Riverbend Steam Station (Mt. Holly, N.C.), Sutton Plant (Wilmington, N.C.), Weatherspoon Plant (Lumberton, N.C.) and one basin at the Rogers Energy Complex. This recent settlement agreement would bring the total excavation to approximately 124 million tons.
According to Duke Energy, this settlement agreement will reduce the total estimated cost to close the nine basins by about $1.5 billion, as compared to the April 1, 2019 NCDEQ order requiring full excavation. As a result, the estimated total undiscounted cost to permanently close all ash basins in the Carolinas is now approximately $8 billion to $9 billion, of which approximately $2.4 billion has been spent through 2019. Most of the remaining expenditures are expected to occur over the next 15-20 years.
Duke Energy met a December 31, 2019 deadline to submit closure plans for the excavations, as required by Coal Ash Management Act (CAMA) of 2016 and in accordance with the settlement agreement. The public will have an opportunity to comment on the closure plans at public hearings near each of the six sites in February. Under CAMA, 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.