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First anniversary of North Carolina coal ash law

Saturday, September 19, 2015 - 12:00am

The state environmental agency has made great strides to address the decades-old problem of coal ash and meet the aggressive deadlines established by the Coal Ash Management Act, or CAMA, in the one year since the law was enacted.

The Coal Ash Management Act, which was enacted Sept. 20, 2014, sets the state on a path to cleaning up the state’s coal ash ponds by strengthening environmental and health regulations. It put Duke Energy on a timetable to close all its coal ash ponds, closed loopholes in state law to strengthen the state’s ability to regulate the ponds, eliminated special exemptions for utilities and increased regulatory authority to ensure dam safety and protect water quality.

“Thanks to this administration’s vision and leadership, North Carolina is a national leader in coal ash management,” said Tom Reeder, assistant secretary for the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, or DENR. “The progress that our state has made in such a short period of time on this long ignored issue is a testament to the hard work and commitment of DENR employees, but our work is far from over. We will continue to devote significant resources to address this issue until every coal ash impoundment in the state is closed safely, securely and in a manner that protects the environment and public health.”

Governor Pat McCrory set North Carolina on a path to address the safe cleanup of coal ash when he developed the framework for CAMA and later issued Executive Order 62.

Coal ash excavation and removal began earlier this year at the Riverbend facility just outside Charlotte. North Carolina was the first state in the nation to seek and receive federal approval for the new permits required to move coal ash. The state has worked with the Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, for more than a year and is awaiting the EPA’s concurrence on several state-approved permits to move forward with dewatering and excavation activities. The EPA’s inability to determine how to handle this problem nationally has delayed DENR’s ability to issue certain permits critical to pond closure.

More information about the first anniversary of the Coal Ash Management Act can be found in the Sept. 19 press release.