After Legal Threat, Duke Energy Will Release Full Emergency Coal Ash Safety Plans

After Legal Threat, Duke Energy Will Release Full Emergency Coal Ash Safety Plans

5:40pm Sep 22, 2017
Duke Energy's Belews Creek coal ash storage site. (Keri Brown/WFDD)

Duke Energy says it will release previously withheld information about emergency action plans for its coal ash storage sites. This comes after environmental groups threatened to sue the utility for not disclosing the information to the public.

Earlier this week, the Southern Environmental Law Center sent notices regarding ten sites in North Carolina where dams are holding back coal ash near rivers and lakes.

Several environmental groups accused Duke Energy of hiding critical information in its emergency action plans. Some parts were blacked out, including contact information for first responders and maps that show which neighborhoods would be flooded by coal ash in the case of an accident at the site.

Duke Energy says it will release the redacted information to the public.

Spokesperson Paige Sheehan says the company reviewed state laws when making the plans, and the full copies were shared with local emergency officials.

“When the company updated the EAPs in 2014, prior to the federal CCR rule, we relied on the historical interpretation of state law designed to safeguard information about critical infrastructure," she said. "After revisiting the issue and reviewing how other utilities have managed the expectations of the CCR rule, we agree it is appropriate to post additional information and make it available to the public."

“Public safety and safe operations are our highest priorities. Ash basins continue to operate safely and are highly regulated,” she added.

Frank Holleman, an attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center, says the information should have been released sooner.

“It is a shame that citizens have to threaten to sue Duke Energy to get it to obey the law,” Holleman said. “The public should have had this emergency information for months.”

Duke Energy says it will post the emergency action plans on its website in the coming weeks.

Follow WFDD's Keri brown on Twitter @kerib_news

Copyright 2017 WFDD. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. AP contributed to this report.
Support your
public radio station