Duke Energy

Duke Energy's stubborn refusal to deal with NC's coal ash problem

Why do today what you can put off indefinitely:

“It's really a very simple notion,” said Frank Holleman, an attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center, which is now suing Duke Energy over coal ash disposal. “It's not cutting edge technology; it's just basic common sense.”

Environmental groups like the Catawba Riverkeeper are suing Duke Energy to prompt the utility to get moving and clean up the remaining coal ash. But Duke is in no hurry. “We don't act hastily,” said Duke spokeswoman Lisa Hoffmann. “We base all our decisions on science and engineering; that's the kind of business we run.”

Of course they're in no hurry. They've bought and paid for the Governor's mansion, 3/4 of the Legislature and most of the NC Utilities Commission, and they've been able to get a bumbling idiot installed at DENR. Why go to the trouble and expense of stacking the deck if you're still going to have to pay for all those pesky cleanup jobs? The only "science" Duke Energy engages in is political science.

Duke Energy's coal ash problem worsens

And that problem is seeping into our water systems:

The Allen Steam Station has both unpermitted discharges (seeps) and groundwater violations at wells around the site. The Marshall Steam Station was cited only for groundwater violations. In November 2012, the Riverkeeper reported unpermitted discharges at Allen to the EPA and the State. Investigating this summer, multiple other unpermitted discharges were discovered and tested. The liquid seeping out from the Allen coal ash lagoons have manganese (a neurotoxin) at 44 times the standard, cobalt at 39 times the standard, and boron at 1.2 times the standard.

Every day that passes with no efforts on the part of Duke Energy to mitigate these threats leaks more toxins into our precious water supplies, and the problem isn't restricted to a specific region or geologic formation. The same thing is happening near the coast, and you can't put that poisonous genie back into the bottle.

Coal ash pond lawsuits pile up on Duke Energy

The NC DENR ramps up the legal pressure:

The two lawsuits filed in Mecklenburg and Wake counties Friday cite groundwater pollution at all 12 of the plants and illegal seepage from ash ponds at most of them. Among them are Allen on Lake Wylie in Gaston County and Marshall on Lake Norman in Catawba County. The suits say ash violations, if not corrected, “pose a serious danger to the health, safety and welfare of the people of the state of North Carolina and serious harm to the water resources of the state.”

On the surface this seems to be a good thing, but the across-the-board nature of these filings raises some questions. Will the court be asked to look at the problem as an "average", where relatively clean sites make the dirty ones seem less so? Or is this move merely preemptive in nature, to keep others from filing suits:

Duke Energy's propaganda machine kicks in

When cleaning up your image is more important than cleaning up your toxic messes:

Riverbend has been portrayed in recent years as a looming menace. Nothing could be further from the truth. The employees who operated the station for more than eight decades did so with dedication to safety, environmental stewardship and operational excellence. Since Riverbend’s retirement, barely a trickle of water returns to Mountain Island Lake from the plant’s ash basins.

Are some of those unpermitted discharges? That’s a technical legal question.

Are they impacting the water quality in Mountain Island Lake? Absolutely not.

Apparently in Duke Energy's world, "barely a trickle" equates to 400,000 gallons per day:

Coal ash lawsuit settlement with Duke Energy "toothless"

Bringing up a new word to describe John Skvarla's DENR, "useless":

In a proposed order that will be open for public comment for 30 days, Duke agrees to assess the sources and extent of contamination at Riverbend and at its Asheville power plant. Duke would be fined $99,000 if the order becomes final. “We must know the extent of any contamination before a meaningful corrective action plan can be carried out,” said Jamie Kritzer, a spokesman for the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

Really? You're going to rely on (and apparently are dependent upon) the company responsible for the pollution to yell you how bad the pollution is, before you can come up with a "meaningful" plan? What part of "conflict of interest" do you not understand? It's not unlike asking a criminal to prosecute himself, frankly, and is so far off the mark from what the public expects from the DENR that it boggles the mind.

Duke Energy back in court over coal ash

And Jesus said unto his flock, "Yeah, we were going to have some fish too, but there's something wrong with them."

The Southern Environmental Law Center filed the notice, which is required under the Clean Water Act, on behalf of Cape Fear River Watch, the Waterkeeper Alliance and the Sierra Club. They say the lake is contaminated by selenium, an ash element that can cause reproductive problems in fish and wildlife. Contaminated groundwater, they claim, threatens the water supply of a low-income community.

The fact that SELC has to bring legal action to mitigate this is a shame, especially since Duke Energy has known about the negative impact of selenium for decades:

Legal action pending over Duke Energy's irresponsible handling of coal ash

When it comes to clean water, there's no such thing as a safe short cut:

In March, the N.C. Division of Water Quality (DWQ) filed a lawsuit over coal ash pollution seeping from ponds at a power plant in Asheville, N.C. owned by Duke Energy's Progress subsidiary. This week, DWQ amended that suit to address similar issues at Duke Energy's Riverbend plant on Mountain Island Lake, which provides drinking water for over 750,000 people in the Charlotte area.

While it might be a truism to say, "We shouldn't be worrying about coal waste because we shouldn't be burning coal anymore", the fact is, we are, and will continue to do so to some degree for many years to come. That being said, coal proponents love to talk about how cheap it is to burn coal. But you know what? Costs are accrued during the whole cycle, and that includes disposal of the toxic wastes. Skimping on that not only creates a false cost formula, it can change the chemical formula of our water, too:

Bold move by Google on renewable energy

I guess this means I can Google my ass off and not feel guilty (get your mind out of the gutter, people):

Google said it is committed to using renewable energy at its data centers — the reason it plans to participate in a new program Duke Energy is developing for large customers that want to buy renewable energy. "As more of the world moves online, demand for Google's services continues to grow — and we want our renewable energy options to grow with it," he said. Google said it operates some of the world most efficient data centers, and in 2007 made a voluntary commitment to become carbon neutral.

We'll have to wait and see if the Victorian Era NC GOP will try to put the kibosh on this, but it looks like Duke Energy is all for it, so... If they (or Americans For the Prosperous) do decide to oppose it, there will need to be some serious explaining:

And now a word from big energy

This could just easily be a Duke Energy commercial instead of an Exxon commercial. It's a sad commentary either way.

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