State environmental department receives Dan River settlement payment

Wednesday, December 7, 2016 - 10:00 am

State environmental officials have received the full settlement payment from Duke Energy for environmental violations related to the February 2014 coal ash spill at the company’s Dan River power plant in Eden. The fine, which is the second largest environmental fine in state history, addresses violations of the federal Clean Water Act that the company committed during and after the Dan River spill.

“Due to the tireless work of this administration we are now able to move on from court cases and fully focus on clean-up efforts,” said Secretary Donald R. van der Vaart. “Let this be an example of how this administration has continued to take enforcement actions against anyone that does not comply with the law so that we can prevent future environmental catastrophes.”

State officials were unable to move forward with enforcement action due to its March 2014 joint enforcement agreement with the federal Environmental Protection Agency. The department proactively ended the agreement to avoid continued delays in the process.

In February, state regulators fined the utility $6.8 million for the spill at Dan River. In addition to the $6 million settlement, Duke Energy is obligated under the state coal ash law to excavate and close the Dan River facility’s coal ash ponds by August 1, 2019.  The utility is required to close all of its coal ash ponds by 2029 and provide permanent alternative water supplies to residents around coal ash facilities by the fall of 2018.

Under the North Carolina constitution, proceeds from the fine will go to a statewide fund for public schools.