EPA: Duke must pay all Dan River clean-up costs -- past, present, future

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As a result of the February 2, 2014, coal ash spill at Duke Energy's Dan River Steam Station, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has signed an enforceable agreement with Duke Energy Carolinas to perform a comprehensive assessment, determine the location of coal ash deposits, and remove deposits along the Dan River. The assessment will be performed by the EPA in consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Responders from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Duke Energy take core water samples from the site of the Dan River coal ash spill. Credit: Steve Alan Humphrey, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The order was entered into under the Superfund law, and specifies that the EPA will oversee the cleanup and Duke will reimburse EPA for its oversight costs. In addition, the order requires Duke to reimburse all past EPA response costs, as well as all future oversight costs.

"EPA will work with Duke Energy to ensure that cleanup at the site, and affected areas, is comprehensive based on sound scientific and ecological principles, complies with all federal and state environmental standards, and moves as quickly as possible," said EPA Regional Administrator Heather McTeer Toney.

Coal ash at the site contains arsenic, cadmium, chromium, copper, lead, mercury, nickel, selenium and zinc, which are hazardous substances as defined under the Superfund law. The disposal must meet specific protective disposal standards for landfills, such as synthetic liners, leachate collection systems and groundwater monitoring.

Duke's work will be subject to review and approval by EPA, in consultation with the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources and Virginia's Department of Environmental Quality. Once removal activities are complete, Duke will be required to assess any remaining contamination to determine whether additional actions may be needed.

For more:
- see the EPA agreement
- see the Duke Energy filing

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