Coal, Emissions, O&M, Policy & Regulations, Water Treatment

New coal ash bill introduced in North Carolina

North Carolina Sen. Tom Apodaca and Senate Leader Phil Berger proposed a new bill on Monday in front of the Senate committee that would prevent wet coal ash from leaking toxins into groundwater or nearby rivers.

The bill, if approved, would close unlined coal ash ponds in the state within 15 years, and prohibit storing wet coal ash in such basins.

In addition, the bill would mandate future coal ash at new or existing lined landfills with extensive groundwater monitoring. Pond owners would also be required to divert stormwater away from impoundments.

Sen. Apodaca said that the Coal Ash Management Commission (CAMC), which consists of nine experts, would work with the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to review and assign risk classifications. The bill would also create 25 new positions at DENR and four at CAMC. According to the senators, funding would come from coal-fired utilities, not consumers.

The classification would determine a timeline. If found “high-risk,” coal ponds would have to be cleaned up by 2019; “intermediate-risk sites” would be handled by 2024; and “low-risk sites” would be addressed by 2029.

As the bill proposal stands, Duke Energy’s (NYSE: DUK) Dan River, Asheville, Riverbend and Sutton power plants would be classified “high-risk” due to their proximity to rivers.