Duke pleads guilty in court to environmental crimes, agrees to pay $102 million in penalties

GREENVILLE, NC (AP) – Duke Energy has pleaded guilty in federal court to environmental crimes and has agreed to pay $102 million in fines and restitution over years of illegal pollution leaking from coal-ash dumps at five North Carolina power plants.

The company’s plea to nine misdemeanor counts involving violations of the Clean Water Act was part of a negotiated settlement with federal prosecutors.

Prosecutors say the nation’s largest electricity company engaged in unlawful dumping at coal-fired power plants in Eden, Moncure, Asheville, Goldsboro and Mt. Holly.

“Duke subsidiaries, they should have been monitoring better. They should have been fixing what they saw. They should have been listening to their employees, and if they had done that, the spill that we saw would not have occurred,” said John Cruden, Assistant Attorney General.

The investigation into Duke began last February after a pipe collapsed under a coal ash dump at the Eden plant, coating 70 miles of the Dan River in gray sludge. However, prosecutors said that Duke’s illegal dumping had been going back for years, to at least 2010.

“Duke has done everything possible to make this right and today was about accepting responsibility and moving forward as a very different company,” said Jim Cooney, the attorney representing Duke Energy.

Categories: Associated Press, NC, New Hanover, News

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