Court approves consent order to excavate more than 80 million tons of coal ash


RALEIGH – Today, the consent order between the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, community and environmental groups and Duke Energy regarding the excavation of more than 80 million tons of coal ash was approved in its entirety by Wake County Superior Court Judge Paul Ridgeway.   

The consent order covers the excavation of coal ash impoundments at the Allen, Belews Creek, Buck, Cliffside, Mayo, Marshall and Roxboro facilities, incorporating the terms of the settlement agreement signed on December 31, 2019.  The consent order also covers an additional facility, Buck, where more than 6 million tons of coal ash will be excavated.  The excavated ash will be placed in on-site, lined landfills or recycle for beneficial use. The entry of the consent order also triggers the end of all pending coal ash litigation between the parties.

“With this consent order, the cleanup of nearly 80 million tons of coal ash is now enforceable by the court. Communities living with the threat of coal ash pollution can be certain that the excavations will happen as promised,” said Secretary Michael S. Regan. “This closes the chapter on the outdated practice of storing coal ash in open, unlined pits in North Carolina and protects the public health and the environment.”

The excavation is the largest coal ash clean up in the nation’s history and will result in more excavation than in out four neighboring states combined. Under the terms of the settlement agreement, Duke is required to excavate more than 76 million tons of coal ash from open, unlined impoundments at the six facilities. More than 3 million tons of non-impoundment coal ash will also be excavated. Roxboro, Marshall and Belews Creek will be subject to additional protective measures for specific sections of impoundments that will remain under existing permitted landfills or structural fills. Protective measures will include stabilization requirements, impervious cover, surface water and groundwater monitoring, and any necessary remediation.

Under the Coal Ash Management Act, the public has the opportunity to weigh in on the closure plans submitted by Duke Energy in public meetings starting next week and during the open comment period for each facility. Details on the public meetings, closures plan documents and ways to comment are posted on the DEQ website.

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. For more information visit


Updated to clarify the inclusion of the Buck facility in the consent order 02/06/2020