NC high court: Immediate cleanup of coal ash not required

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Coal ash from a Duke Energy plant spilled into the Dan River in February 2014.

RALEIGH, NC (AP) — North Carolina’s highest court says Duke Energy has years to clean up leaking coal ash dumps as outlined by a new state law and doesn’t have to act immediately.

The state Supreme Court on Thursday overruled a lower court judge’s decision that the country’s largest electric company must take “immediate action” to eliminate groundwater pollution at its unlined ash pits.

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The court agreed with Duke Energy’s attorneys that the issue is moot since legislators passed a law after last year’s massive Dan River spill that requires the company to cap or remove all of its dumps by 2029.  Four high priority sites must close by 2019.

The ash is the residue of coal burned for electricity and contains toxic heavy metals.

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