Wednesday, March 11, 2015

N.C. fines Duke Energy record $25.1 million for coal ash spill; much larger action pending

North Carolina officials on Tuesday fined Duke Energy $25.1 million—the largest environmental fine in state history—for contamination of groundwater by coal ash from the company’s Sutton Plant near Wilmington, N.C., Jonathan Katz reports for The New York Times. Federal prosecutors are pursuing a separate larger fine for the February 2014 spill that dumped 82,000 tons of coal ash in the Dan River.

North Carolina officials said the steep fine for the 2013 spill is "because of the severity and duration of groundwater pollution near the coal-fired L.V. Sutton Plant," Taft Wireback reports for the News & Record of Greensboro. "They based the fine on the length of time coal ash contamination continued in the groundwater, the harmful characteristics of the chemicals detected near the plant and the overall amount of damage to the groundwater." Also included in the fine was the state's cost to investigate the spill. Duke has 30 days to pay or appeal.

"Federal prosecutors are pursuing a separate, much larger action against the company stemming from its spill of millions of gallons of toxic coal ash from a plant on the Dan River, near the Virginia border," Katz reports.

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