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Criminal charges filed against Duke Energy

Duke Energy entered a plea agreement with federal prosecutors to resolve a federal criminal investigation into its handling of coal ash in North Carolina.

Duke Energy entered a proposed plea agreement with prosecutors to resolve federal criminal charges related to its handling of coal ash in North Carolina.

The U.S. Department of Justice has filed criminal charges against Duke Energy for violating the federal Clean Water Act at coal ash sites across North Carolina. The company announced today it has reached a proposed plea agreement with federal prosecutors to resolve the charges.

According to a Duke Energy press release, the plea agreement includes $68.2 million in fines and restitution and $34 million for community service and mitigation.

The charges include multiple misdemeanor violations of the Clean Water Act in connection with last year’s coal ash spill in the Dan River as well as unauthorized discharges at other Duke coal plants in North Carolina. The agreement is subject to review and approval by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina.

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The agreement does not affect state lawsuits against Duke Energy, in which Appalachian Voices and our partners have intervened. It’s unclear whether the grand jury has finished its work, only finding Duke in the wrong, or if an investigation into actions of the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources is ongoing.

The federal grand jury investigation began last year after 39,000 tons of coal ash spilled from a retired Duke Energy coal plant into the Dan River.

A statement from Amy Adams, North Carolina Campaign Coordinator for Appalachian Voices, and former supervisor with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources:

It’s good to see that federal enforcers have taken this issue seriously by diligently pursuing criminal charges and levying a substantial fine against Duke, and it’s good to see Duke acknowledge its culpability. However, we have yet to see that culpability turn into real action. There are still leaking coal ash ponds at 10 of Duke’s sites, leaving 10 communities in limbo and a lot of ash that must be permanently and safely disposed.

Important questions remain, like exactly how the money will be spent and whether any individuals will be named. But most troubling is the unanswered question of whether DENR was aware of negligence and failed to act, or was unable to recognize the magnitude of the situation in the first place.

Learn more about our work to clean up coal ash pollution. Subscribe to the Front Porch Blog to receive regular updates. 





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  1. john papandrea on February 25, 2015 at 8:34 am

    Another plea bargain, slap on the wrist, no serious fault admission, tax deductible, woefully inadequate fine for a serial offender and further societal failure to factor in the incalculable human and environmental costs of cheap coal. Working people must demand real good jobs without having to support industries that undermine the common interest.

  2. Brad on February 24, 2015 at 3:29 pm

    Now take that money and give the people of N.C. some freakin HEALTH INSURANCE!! or does da governor get it since he’s in bed with duked?

  3. Mason Dixon on February 24, 2015 at 3:06 pm

    These criminals need jail time. The fines mean nothing to the executives making these decisions to pollute the environment rather than look for clean sources of energy. The customers end up paying for it with higher rates.

  4. Rob Hunter on February 24, 2015 at 12:55 am

    If the numbers aren’t large enough to make their stock drop dramatically they’ll just do it again. Make those corporate bastards lose their sweet ass bonuses.

  5. alex evans on February 23, 2015 at 10:11 pm

    fuck this company they tried to pin this shit on my dad who had been working there for almost 50 years. forced him to retire

  6. 22 y.o. college graduate on February 23, 2015 at 4:00 pm

    I am sick and tired of Duke Energy just throwing money at a problem and putting on a smile like nothing is wrong. I am a right wing republican and Duke Energy customer (i live in NC, Duke Energy controls the marketplace since there is no other competition) and regardless of your political ideologies or social viewpoints, we all know as a society that dumping ash into a river is just plain wrong. get your act together, Dook.

  7. ayy on February 23, 2015 at 12:53 pm


  8. John A Antilety on February 21, 2015 at 3:58 pm

    Those numbers need another two zeroes on the end of them.

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