Duke Energy to Appeal North Carolina Regulator's Decision on Coal Ash

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04/11/2019 | 12:55 pm
Patrick Thomas

By Patrick Thomas

Duke Energy Corp. (DUK) said Thursday it plans on appealing a decision from a North Carolina environmental regulator to remove coal ash from all storage basins in the state.

Earlier this month, the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality rejected the company's proposal to cover some ponds and leave that ash in place. On Thursday, the Charlotte, N.C., utility company said the regulator's decision would cause financial harm on its customers and the state economy. Duke said it will provide more details when it files an appeal before the North Carolina Office of Administrative Hearings in the near future.

Duke had originally planned to remove coal ash from 22 of its 31 basins in the state and move it to lined landfills. The company proposed capping nine of its basins that it viewed as structurally sound and posed little threat to groundwater.

In a statement earlier this month, regulators said the only way to protect public health and the environment is to evacuate the coal ash sites.

Coal ash is a byproduct from coal-fired power plants, which scrub potential air pollutants from their emissions. That ash can contain arsenic, selenium, lead and mercury.

Duke previously said the order would add decades and more than $4 billion to the original $5.6 billion estimate for cleanup at its plants.

Duke is in the process of gradually retiring its coal plants. Some of the coal-ash basins are at plants that have already closed.

Write to Patrick Thomas at patrick.thomas@wsj.com

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