Consent Order for Duke Energy’s Feb. 2014 Coal Ash Spill into Dan River Announced Apr. 3, 2015, by Va. DEQ

On April 3, 2015, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) announced a proposed $2.5 million consent order for Duke Energy Carolinas as a result of the February 2, 2014, coal ash spill into the Dan River.  For more information, contact Bill Hayden at (804) 698-4447 or william.hayden@deq.virginia.gov.

Following is an excerpt from the DEQ’s April 3 news release on the proposed consent order, “Proposed consent order imposes $2.5 million settlement on Duke Energy Carolinas for Dan River coal ash spill,” available online at http://www.deq.virginia.gov/info/newsreleases.php?show=2495.

“The settlement, part of a consent order to which Duke has agreed, is one of the largest ever proposed by DEQ. It includes $2.25 million in environmental projects that Duke must perform to benefit Virginia localities affected by the spill. The remaining $250,000 will be placed in the fund DEQ uses to respond to environmental emergencies. … “A public comment period on the proposed order will be open through May 20, 2015. Afterward, the State Water Control Board must give final approval for the order to take effect.

“The spill occurred February 2, 2014, when a stormwater pipe beneath a coal ash storage pond collapsed at a Duke facility in Eden, N.C., sending up to 39,000 tons of coal ash and about 25 million gallons of ash impoundment water into the Dan River. The material moved downriver and settled out in varying amounts for about 80 miles, reaching the Kerr Reservoir in Virginia.

“DEQ and several state and federal agencies have been monitoring the Dan River since the spill. Though no immediate environmental concerns have been identified, analysis of data collected during the past year is ongoing and will form a “baseline” for detailing potential problems in the future. DEQ will continue long-term evaluation of the river, including monitoring and assessment of water quality, sediments and fish populations for at least the next two to four years.

“In addition to proposing the consent order, DEQ is participating in a multi-part enforcement strategy involving Duke. These actions include [the following]:

• Cost reimbursement – DEQ negotiated terms with Duke immediately after the spill for full reimbursement of all costs associated with spill response on behalf of Halifax County, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, the Virginia Department of Health, and DEQ. Cost recovery to date totals $237,000 and will continue until work on the Dan River is complete.

• Order for coal ash removal – DEQ coordinated with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and other state and federal agencies in the development of EPA’s consent order requiring Duke to conduct ash removal from the Dan River. This included dredging at Abreu-Grogan Park in Danville, where crews removed more than 2,000 tons of coal ash and river sediment. Duke also removed contaminated solids from settling basins at the Danville and South Boston water treatment plants.

• Natural Resource Damage Trustee Council – DEQ is representing the Commonwealth and local communities on the Dan River Natural Resource Damage Trustee Council. Along with the North Carolina DENR and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, DEQ is working with Duke on the assessment and compensation for harm to Virginia’s natural resources. Identification of opportunities for “early restoration” projects is under way with the trustee council’s review of proposals solicited from the localities and general public in late 2014.

• Department of Justice criminal action – DEQ has assisted the U.S. Department of Justice in the development of its criminal case against Duke in North Carolina. DEQ will continue to coordinate with DOJ to advocate for Virginia’s interests in any plea agreement between the United States and Duke, including the requirement of community service projects benefiting affected local communities and the Dan River watershed.”

News media account about the proposed consent order:
Duke Energy to pay Virginia $2.5 million for Dan River spill, Charlotte (N.C.) Observer, 4/3/15.

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