by: Jim Bradley Updated:
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - In a letter dated Thursday, North Carolina's Department of Environmental and Natural Resources states Duke Energy violated regulations by sending 61 million gallons of coal ash wastewater into a tributary of the Cape Fear River.
DENR stated that pictures taken earlier in March show where Duke pumped that wastewater from two coal ash ponds near its Cape Fear Steam Station southwest of Raleigh.
At the time, Duke insisted the discharges came during permitted maintenance.
DENR stated Thursday that Duke went too far.
“If we had known about it, we would have prescribed certain things, testing of the outflow of this,” said Drew Elliot with NC DENR. “Perhaps a schedule that they could only release on days where there's a high flow to the river to maximize dilution.”
The alleged violations along the Cape Fear heap more attention on Duke in the aftermath of its huge coal ash spill into the Dan River. The amount spilled there is only half the size of the discharge into the Cape Fear River.
Environmental groups said DENR's new citations support their claims that Duke's coal ash problems aren't over.
“I think it raises concern because, bow long has this been going on?” said Catawba Riverkeeper Sam Perkins.
DENR can issue civil penalties for violations of environmental laws, but it has to give Duke Energy time to respond.
The state is asking Duke to provide a response within 30 days. Channel 9 contacted Duke Energy for a comment but has not heard back.
To see the letters and other documentation, click here.