by: Jim Bradley Updated:
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Duke Energy took its message to lawmakers in Raleigh while still in the spotlight from a huge coal ash spill into the Dan River.
The legislators’ Environmental Review Commission met Tuesday for an update on coal ash issues.
They first heard from the state's Department of Environmental and Natural Resources that said it's continuing to test water quality in the Dan River basin.
Paul Newton, who heads Duke Energy’s operations in North Carolina, told the panel he's sorry for the spill that caused millions of gallons of toxin-laced coal ash to flow into the Dan River near Eden, N.C.
He told legislators it will be the end of 2014 before Duke Energy has a firm plan in place for dealing with all 33 coal ash ponds in the state.
Duke has promised to remove all coal ash from the Dan River site and also from ponds near Mountain Island Lake near Charlotte, but the company said it's still looking at options for 30 other sites and is considering draining some ponds and capping them in place.
Environmental groups urged legislators to force Duke Energy to remove coal ash at all sites.
"Coal ash is a can that's been kicked down the road for far too long," said Molly Diggins with the N.C. Sierra Club. "Any real solution must have a timeline with a fixed date to close out all 33 wet coal ash ponds," she said.
However, Duke Energy said removing all coal ash could take years because of the need to build new lined landfills to handle the ash.
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