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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The investigation of a coal ash spill across the state has led state regulators to the Cape Fear. They say five more Duke Energy plants have violations, including one in New Hanover County.

The North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources found six Duke Energy plants had not applied for or obtained federally-mandated stormwater permits, including the Sutton Steam Plant on US 421.

“We know that there is groundwater contamination at sutton and at a number of other plants around the state that has the potential to threaten public and private groundwater based drinking water,” said Hope Taylor, executive director of Clean Water for North Carolina.

Federally-mandated stormwater permits regulate stormwater discharge from facilities that have industrial activities. They are permits the Sutton Plant has not applied for.

“With regards to Sutton Plant, this action is only about their failure to get a permit,” DENR spokeswoman Bridget Munger said. “There are other ongoing investigations. We are looking into all coal ash facilities at this point in time.”

Taylor says the Sutton Plant been a problem for years; a problem she says many citizens are now trying to tackle as well.

For a year, several environmental groups have actually been filing citizen suits because of the groundwater contamination from these coal ash ponds calling for them to be moved,” Taylor said.

She says coal ash has contaminants like arsenic, cadmium and lead, which can cause serious health problems if not taken care of.

“Things like cadmium and arsenic can be lethal in high enough concentrations,” Taylor said. “In lower concentrations they can be cancer causing or they can cause serious organ problems.”

Duke Energy spokeswoman Paige Sheehan did not want to do an interview. She says the company will respond to the state’s allegations.

In addition to the Sutton Steam Plant, the site are the Belews Creek Steam Station in Rockingham County, Cliffside Steam Station in Rutherford County, Lee Steam Electric Plant in Wayne County and the Roxboro Steam Electric Power Plant in Person County.

Comment on this Story

  • 1234543

    actually it’s attitudes like yours that is killing us all, you aren’t fining Duke, Duke just pass’s the bill on down to the consumer, which in this case is us, the only way that “you” can punish Duke is to refuse to use their service, me thinks you like to turn on the lights and the tv too,so there you have it, welcome to the 21st century!

  • Rick Wilson

    Attitudes such as yours is why they feel they can get away with not following the rules. The fines should be enough so that is not profitable to by pass the rules. If you do not think following the rules is a big deal, why don’t you visit the coal ash spill site…….you might just change your mind. Or…..you might not care until something bad happens to you or the people you care about.

  • Rick Wilson

    Is it your position that since they supply electrical power that they should be able to do whatever they wish? Regulation could take the fines out of profits (stock options and executive bonuses)……..but, by all means you are entitled to just turn a blind eye and say anything goes.

  • Rick Wilson

    John Skvarla and the Governor have gutted DENR. Until this spill they were willing to give industry a complete pass and green light. Funny how something like a federal investigation will cause an about face……..Enforced regulations with penalties harsher than profit for ignoring said regulations is the only way to prevent these tragedies. The elimination of public self-servants would be a great start along with successful prosecutions and jail terms.

  • 1234543

    I have an idea, why don’t we just demand Duke shuts down till they have their act together, and if that doesn’t suit you John, let’s just fine them a billion dollars a week, would that be suitable?

  • Vog46

    The problems at Duke started way before McSmirky. He is of course the Governor and the buck stops with him.
    The Governor and Svarla both have conflicts of interest here having worked for or consulted with Duke in the past. I would hope the Federal subpoena’s turn up nothing – but the relationship between the Admin and this company cannot be ignored.


  • blovo

    Coal ash is totally harmless. All the heavy metals are well below harmful levels. I don’t understand why they don’t make a breakfast cereal out of it. Problem solved.

  • Heavy Metal Man

    That’s right. There’s very little heavy metals left in coal ash. They’ve been evaporated out of it, and disbursed into the atmosphere. Some have precipitated out around the plant, and into Sutton Swamp, including into the ash piles, but they mostly go into the air so everyone can have some. All sorts of nice stuff like mercury, lead, arsenic, thorium(radioactive), uranium(radioactive), and the list goes on.

    Contrary to what the TV ads used to say, there is no such thing as “clean coal”. The whiners don’t like wind turbines, photovoltaic (solar) isn’t gonna cut it and the manufacture of those panels puts a bunch of nasties into the air and water which is why they are made offshore, gas turbines (sutton’s replacement) put plenty of co2 into the air along with other oxides, hydro is bad according to some. The list goes on.

  • Bearclaw

    This is what happens when a government actively promotes deregulation. I’m sure Duke’s slap on the wrist will make this problem go away.

  • Rick Wilson

    I hope the subpoena’s turn up enough evidence to put McSmirky and Svarla in prison for a long time…………..These people have no problem letting others take the fall for them, it is time for them to pay for their own misdeeds……


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