Duke settles Dan River coal ash spill fine at $6m level

The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality said Sept. 23 that it has reached a settlement with Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK) that holds the utility accountable for environmental violations related to the February 2014 coal ash spill at the company’s retired Dan River power plant.

The fine addresses violations of the federal Clean Water Act that the company committed during and after the Dan River spill. 

“This is yet another example of the McCrory administration’s commitment to environmental protection,” said DEQ Secretary Donald van der Vaart. “Unlike previous administrations, we will take enforcement actions against anyone that does not comply with the law so that we can prevent future environmental catastrophes.”

In February, state regulators fined the utility $6.8 million for the spill at Dan River. Duke Energy challenged the fine, which was the second largest for environmental violations in state history. The $6 million settlement prevents the state from incurring additional legal costs associated with lengthy litigation and the agency said it allows the state to focus all its resources on permanently closing coal ash ponds. 

The $6 million settlement is in addition to Duke Energy’s obligations under the state coal ash law to excavate and close the Dan River facility’s coal ash ponds by Aug. 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.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.