Duke Energy takes full responsibility for the Dan River incident
Duke Energy's North Carolina state president, Paul Newton, spoke before the N.C. Joint Environmental Review Commission (ERC) on the company's response to the Feb. 2 Dan River coal ash incident and its near-term and longer-term actions to address coal ash across the state.
Newton told the ERC the company takes full responsibility for the Dan River incident. He also discussed the significant steps Duke Energy has taken on the site and in the river since the company's previous update to the ERC on Feb. 17. These include:
- Ongoing water sampling that demonstrates the Dan River has returned to normal water quality conditions, and drinking water remains safe;
- Removing an ash deposit near the Dan River site and preparations to begin removing an ash deposit behind the Schoolfield Dam near Danville in the coming weeks; and
- Continuing to work constructively with federal and state experts from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources to monitor the river and evaluate additional remediation efforts.
Newton said that as a result of Duke Energy's recently completed $9 billion power plant fleet modernization program, the company has retired more plants than at any other time in its history. The company had always planned to permanently close its ash basins as it retires units, following existing industry norms and compliance expectations of state and federal regulators.
Immediately after the Dan River incident, the company engaged independent third-party engineering experts to assess all of the company's ash basins by May 31, 2014, and immediate action will be taken to address any significant issues, Newton said.
The company also is preparing a comprehensive, longer-term ash basin strategy that involves intensive analysis at all of its coal plant sites that begins next month. That work will be completed by the end of the year, with closure strategies recommended for each site.