Public meeting held to discuss proposed closure of Sutton coal ash ponds


WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Community members came out to Cape Fear Community College Tuesday night for a public meeting about the proposed closure plans for the Sutton Plant coal ash ponds.

“In August 2014, the N.C. General Assembly passed Senate bill 729, the Coal Ash Management Act, or CAMA. CAMA puts Duke Energy on a timetable to close all coal ash ponds. The deadlines for closure depend on the classification of each impoundment as high, intermediate or low. The Asheville, Dan River, Riverbend and L.V. Sutton facilities are designated as high risk and must be closed (excavated or converted to industrial landfills) no later than Dec. 31, 2019,” the Department of Environmental Quality said in a PowerPoint presentation.

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An excavation plan submitted to state regulators suggested Hurricane Matthew and permitting delays meant Duke Energy could miss the state-mandated August 1, 2019 deadline to close a pair of coal ash basins at the plant outside Wilmington.

Public Information Officer for the NC Department of Environmental Quality Water Resources Division Marla Sink said the closure plans were deemed incomplete.

“What we’re trying to do is keep people’s water safe,” Sink said. “And we want to make North Carolinians safe and make sure that they feel that they’re safe. So what we’re doing is that there have been some tests that there are contaminants in some of the water. And so what we’re doing is making sure that these ash ponds are closed in a sufficient amount of time.”

Once revised plans are submitted, the Department of Environmental Quality will review the plans and determine what the next step will be.

The deadline for Duke Energy to submit revised closure plans is April 10, 2017.