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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — State environmental regulators want to modify permits to require Duke Energy to clean up coal ash at three facilities, including the Sutton plant near Wilmington.

Under the plan from the NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Duke would have to dewater and speed up closing the coal ash ponds at the Sutton plant off US 421. It would also affect coal ash storage at the company’s Riverbend and Asheville power plants.

“In a March 12 letter, Duke Energy responded to a demand for information from Gov. McCrory and me,” DENR Secretary John Skvarla said in a news release. “Although Duke committed to near-term actions, the response lacked the detail necessary to ensure Duke Energy abides by the commitments outlined in their letter. Reopening these permits allows DENR to ensure that Duke Energy resolves this long-standing issue at these facilities.””

DENR says it will reopen the existing National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System, or NPDES, wastewater discharge permits for the three plants. The Sutton plant was issued a notice of violation March 3 for failure to obtain an NPDES industrial stormwater permit.

DENR notified Duke Energy Friday afternoon by letter of the agency’s intention to reopen the existing NPDES permits for the Riverbend and Sutton plants. Duke Energy’s NPDES permits for the facilities allow the utility to discharge coal ash basin water from storage ponds into nearby waterways. By law, the state agency is required to give Duke Energy 60 days to respond to the agency’s decision to reopen the permits.

“In addition to our recent action to reopen the NPDES permit for the Dan River plant, we are taking these additional actions to address deficiencies at the three facilities that DENR has identified as the most urgent,” said Tom Reeder, director of the NC Division of Water Resources.

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