Duke Energy caught in lie

61 million gallons more.

That's how much Duke Energy illegally pumped into the Cape Fear River.

Duke Energy’s temporary pumping of two coal ash ponds in Chatham County, which was discovered last week by regulators and environmentalists, illegally put 61 million gallons of wastewater into a tributary of the Cape Fear River.

This wasn't a spill, or an accident, or a failed mechanical system. This was deliberate pumping of waste into the river.

And then Duke Energy lied. They said it was "routine maintenance" and they said DENR knew about it and they had permission to pump the waste. All of which was not true.

The company had said it was lowering the water level to do routine maintenance on risers, which are vertical spillway pipes. But the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources said Thursday what the company did “far exceeded what would reasonably be considered routine maintenance.”

Workers bypassed the risers by using a pair of temporary pumps, and drew down the water level so rapidly that the system failed to function as a treatment system, inspectors said.

And when it was discovered by the Riverkeepers Alliance, Duke Energy and a local sheriff prevented the environmentalists from investigating. That's right, the law protected the lawbreakers.

The News & Observer article says that DENR "cited" Duke Energy. It doesn't say what the penalty is.

Regulators on Thursday cited the utility for violating the conditions of its wastewater permit at the closed Cape Fear power plant.

Comments

Fines?

WRAL notes that DENR can levy fines after Duke Energy gets 10 days to respond.

I guess we will see who DENR fears most -- the feds or the power company.

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"I will have a priority on building relationships with the minority caucus. I want to put substance behind those campaign speeches." -- Thom Tillis, Nov. 5, 2014

Too big to be trusted

Time to break Duke apart. Too big to trust is too big to exist.

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"...the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be."

Martin Luther King, Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail

They never should have

approved the merger.

One wonders what other surreptitious actions Duke Energy is taking now that there's more scrutiny of their dozens of coal ash ponds. Are they draining others?

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"I will have a priority on building relationships with the minority caucus. I want to put substance behind those campaign speeches." -- Thom Tillis, Nov. 5, 2014

Sheriff Webster responds:

To be absolutely fair, this was Webster's reply to the Riverkeeper.

3/20/14

Elaine,

Thanks for meeting me earlier today in reference to the interaction of my deputy, the Riverkeepers and Duke Energy staff last week.
As you know, on March 13, 2014, a deputy was dispatched to Duke Energy (Cape Fear Coal Plant) in Moncure reference a trespassing call.
The deputy dealt with several issues including, "are occupants in a boat, on canal waters, on private property, trespassing"?
My deputy having limited information at hand - made a decision that in his opinion harmed neither side and kept the peace.
Since then we consulted with Jep Rose - the County Attorney about conflicting interpretations of property rights and water rights.
At this point in time with the information currently available, Mr. Rose has advised us to consider the canal waters to be a publicly navigable waterway. Again, thank you for meeting with me this afternoon and I appreciate your friendship and working relationship.

Sincerely,

Sheriff Richard. H. Webster
Chatham County Sheriff's Office

btw, I have to wonder why it took Elaine Chiosso until March 10 to notice a situation along "her" river that had been going on since Ausust.

Not Elaine's River

Elaine is the Haw Riverkeeper not the not the Cape Fear Riverkeeper who was the one who was involved in this incident. While the Haw is part of the Cape Fear River Basin it is not the Cape Fear River. The Haw ends just below the Jordan Lake Dam when the Deep River joins it to become the Cape Fear. The coal plant is in Moncure which is south of Jordan Lake so she would not be involved with monitoring it. I believe she wrote the Sheriff because the Haw flows through Chatham County and she was concerned about the reaction of the deputy and how it might effect her work along the Haw. There is plenty going on in the Haw Basin to keep her busy like the recent Burlington Sewage spill without monitoring other rivers.

Thank you.

You got to it before I could, but I also wanted to add:

There are (literally) thousands of miles of rivers, streams, canals, and other tributaries that our Riverkeepers try to monitor, and most of those miles are only accessible by paddling your ass off. Questioning the integrity of these folks while we should be throwing them parties is a sure sign somebody's been smoking the wrong shit.

It's our river

Regardless of which riverkeeper should be keeping tabs on this river, the sheriff concluded that it was a public waterway. The boaters, who would seem to be members of the public, should have been able to continue on their journey. The deputy should have wished them godspeed.

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"I will have a priority on building relationships with the minority caucus. I want to put substance behind those campaign speeches." -- Thom Tillis, Nov. 5, 2014