Coal, Policy & Regulations

North Carolina Agency Requests Action on Coal Ash Release

By Editors of Power Engineering

The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality issued a letter requesting Duke Energy submit a plan of action to address the coal ash release at the H.F. Lee power plant site.

The requested plan would include estimates on the type and amount of ash released, assessments of the impoundments that include damage and loss of material at the impoundments, a sampling and/or monitoring plan, a description of past, present and future actions in response to releases, a list of state and federal permits required to execute the plan, and a timeline for completion of the assessment.

The letter indicates the plan should include collection and analysis of surface water and soil samples taken within the impoundments as well as adjacent areas.

Finally, the letter says the NCDWQ hasn’t limited its options with respect to further investigation or enforcement of violations at the H.F. Lee facility.

Duke reported the coal ash release earlier this week. The emissions were due to historically high flooding of the Neuse River in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew.

The company had previously reported a portion of their earthen cooling pond had broken last week, but at the time coal ash wasn’t detected.

However, flood waters subsequently covered three inactive coal ash basins at the plant. Duke said the cover in the inactive basins, including grass, shrubs and trees performed as expected.

Duke said engineers and environmental experts will continue to closely watch the inactive basins and will be able to better assess the amount of material that was displaced in the near future

The active ash basin wasn’t affected, and the 920-MW gas-fired, combined-cycle plant at the site continues to operate.