Regional Coal Ash News

By Elizabeth E. Payne

In North Carolina, Duke Energy submitted a request to the state’s Utilities Commission on Dec. 30, 2016, seeking to defer costs associated with cleaning up its coal ash. With a deferral, the costs could be recouped through rate hikes in 2017, according to the Triad Business Journal.

The utility has also presented residents with drinking-water wells near its coal ash ponds a one-time $5,000 “goodwill” offer, plus additional payments for eligible properties. But any resident that accepts the offer must give up their right to sue Duke Energy for any future contamination or health problems.

“Duke Energy is trying to place a $5,000 price tag on my past, present, and future groundwater contamination concerns. This is an attempt to limit our ability to protect our families,” said Amy Brown of Belmont, N.C., in a statement by the citizen advocacy group Alliance of Carolinians Together (ACT) Against Coal Ash.

Dominion Virginia Power will pay to connect residents living near their Possum Point power plant to public water or provide filtration systems after wells in the area tested positive for contaminants.

On Jan. 25, a trial began against Tennessee Valley Authority for violations of the Clean Water Act. The lawsuit — brought by the Southern Environmental Law Center on behalf of state conservation groups — alleges that the utility’s coal ash impoundments have polluted the Cumberland River.

The federal Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act was signed into law on Dec. 16, 2016. Among other provisions, the law gives states more power to regulate coal ash, and it gives the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency more authority to oversee state permitting processes.

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