Environmental Groups Plan To Sue Duke Energy Over Coal Ash Safety Information

Environmental Groups Plan To Sue Duke Energy Over Coal Ash Safety Information

5:12pm Sep 20, 2017
The Belews Creek Steam Station is among the sites listed by environmental groups in a letter to Duke Energy and state and federal officials. KERI BROWN/WFDD

Environmental groups are accusing Duke Energy of withholding safety information about coal ash sites from the public. They plan to sue the company if the information isn’t disclosed over the next few months.

Federal law requires utilities to create “Emergency Action Plans” near coal ash storage ponds. The legislation was created after major disasters like the Dan River spill. The information is posted online for residents that live near these sites.  But environmental groups say critical information is missing from Duke Energy.

“Duke Energy has actually published these plans online, but they have blacked out the maps, they have blacked out the emergency information and they have blacked out the neighborhoods that would be flooded by the coal ash in the case of an accident at their sites,” says Frank Holleman, an attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center.

Holleman’s group sent notices on behalf of the 10 sites in North Carolina where dams are holding back coal ash near rivers and lakes. He says there are serious questions about what the company is trying to hide.

In a statement, Duke Energy says it reviewed state laws when making the plans, and the full copies have been shared with local emergency officials.

Spokesperson Paige Sheehan says the company will review the approach taken by other utilities and ask state regulators for further guidance.

“Very importantly, we want our communities to rest assured that public safety and safe operations are our highest priorities,” says Sheehan. “Our Emergency Action Plans are but one aspect of the planning steps we take to prepare for an unlikely event."

*Follow WFDD's Keri Brown on Twitter @kerib_news

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