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State orders Duke Energy to address final set of pipe systems at coal ash facilities


RALEIGH – State dam safety officials ordered Duke Energy on Thursday to address a final set of piping systems in dams at six coal ash impoundments in central and eastern North Carolina.

The state discovered the leaks and other concerns with the piping systems while inspecting video the agency ordered Duke Energy to provide after a ruptured pipe caused a coal ash spill Feb. 2 at the utility’s Dan River facility in Eden.

The N.C. Division of Energy, Mineral and Land Resources on Thursday issued four notices of deficiency for leaks and other structural concerns the state discovered in the piping systems at the utility’s Cape Fear (Chatham County), Roxboro (Person County) and Dan River (Rockingham County) power plants. The state ordered Duke Energy to provide a schedule for repairing the piping systems within 30 days.

Also Thursday, the state sent letters to Duke Energy requiring the company provide engineering assessments for piping systems at coal ash impoundment dams where state inspectors noticed smaller leaks or concerns at the Lee (Wayne County), Mayo (Person County), Cape Fear (Chatham County), and Belews Creek (Stokes County) facilities.

None of the leaks or other concerns has been identified as posing an imminent threat to the structural integrity of the dams, said Tracy Davis, director of the N.C. Division of Energy, Mineral and Land Resources.

The state could take enforcement action, including a fine, if Duke Energy does not provide repair schedules or engineering assessments within 30 days.

Last week, the state Division of Energy, Mineral and Land Resources issued Duke Energy 14 letters, ordering the utility to address leaking pipes or other concerns with the piping systems where more information was needed.

The notice issued Thursday for the Dan River facility was for an impoundment next to the one where the pipe rupture caused the Feb. 2 coal ash spill.

The pipes where leaks were identified are in the dams around the coal ash impoundments. The leaking components include risers that capture overflow from the coal ash impoundments or the spillway systems of the coal ash impoundment dams that carry treated wastewater from the risers to discharge points at the facilities.

Copies of the notices of deficiency and inspection letters can be found on the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ Dan River Spill webpage, , under the “Dam Safety” heading. Video from some of the pipe inspections is available on the website now, and other videos will be loaded to the website as soon as possible.

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