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.