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:
Catawba Riverkeeper identified and tested:
Four major unpermitted discharge streams
The seepage from the faces of the dikes containing the waste ponds is so voluminous that Duke Energy has created French drains to limit erosion from the seepage
The total flow from these seepage collection systems is approximately 400,000 gallons/day
Tests of these streams reveal consistent exceedences of North Carolina’s 15A 02L groundwater standards as high as:
Cobalt: 5.2 µg/L (NC 15A 02L is 1)
Iron: 980 µg/L (NC 15A 02L is 300)
Manganese: 1,600 µg/L (NC 15A 02L is 50)
15+ contaminated seeps of groundwater contaminated with wastes from the coal ash ponds
Originate past toes of dikes
Some are defined points, others are broad fields
Tests of these seeps reveal consistent exceedences of North Carolina’s 15A 02L groundwater standards as high as:
Arsenic: 20 µg/L (NC 15A 02L is 10)
Cobalt: 52 µg/L (NC 15A 02L is 1)
Iron: 8,100 µg/L (NC 15A 02L is 300)
Manganese: 6,400 µg/L (NC 15A 02L is 50)
These discharge streams and seeps are unpermitted: there are no pollutant limits and there are no monitoring requirements
Duke University researchers found that:
Arsenic is building up in the sediment of Mountain Island Lake downstream of the ash ponds
Pore water (water content of sediment) concentrations of arsenic measured at 240 µg/L
Arsenic levels in the reservoir periodically spike when water conditions cause the arsenic to erupt from the sediment
Dr. Vengosh at Duke University refers to the arsenic-laden sediment as an “arsenic volcano”
Compare and contrast the Duke editorial, which is brimming with whining, conjecture and outright lies, with the data-rich environment (and all the hard work that represents) at the Riverkeeper's site, and you should start getting the picture. Duke Energy doesn't want to have to engage in a meaningful demonstration/explanation of the situation, because cleaning up their messy coal ash ponds is going to be a costly and embarrassing venture. But it must be done.