Feds override NC on draining coal ash dumps

RALEIGH, NC (AP) — Federal environmental officials spurred North Carolina regulators to reverse course on a policy allowing Duke Energy to drain massive amounts of polluted wastewater from its coal ash dumps directly into the state’s rivers and lakes.

The Southern Environmental Law Center released documents Friday showing that the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources quietly gave Duke approval in August to start emptying all of its coal ash dumps across the state.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency responded on Sept. 16, expressing concern that Duke’s draining would likely violate federal water quality standards without requiring sufficient testing for toxic materials.

State environmental department spokesman Drew Elliot said regulators were following an order from Gov. Pat McCrory to move ahead with the closure of Duke’s ash pits as quickly as possible.

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