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Coal ash is the waste that remains when coal is burned. It is usually collected in a dump, known as a pond. North Carolina has more than 30 such sites in 14 different locations across the state. A pipe running under one of the ponds run by Duke Energy in Eden NC ruptured in February of 2014. The coal ash spilled, largely affecting the Dan River which flows into Virginia. The spill is the third largest of its kind in U.S. history.Many see potential complications because North Carolina's governor, Pat McCrory, worked for Duke Energy for 28 years.

Coal Ash Spill: Duke Energy Nearing Settlement With Feds

The Dan River bank with residual dark grey coal ash.
Steven Alexander

Duke Energy says it is close to a settlement with federal authorities over the Dan River coal ash spill.

After the spill last February, U.S. Attorney Thomas Walker launched a grand jury investigation.

In an earnings conference call this morning, Duke Energy CEO Lyn Good said that a $100 million settlement could be filed in the coming days.

“We expect a proposed agreement could be reached and filed in the next several days, for consideration by the court,” said Good. “If approved, any proposed agreement would resolve the ongoing grand jury investigation of the company’s coal ash basin management.”

Good declined to comment further, citing the ongoing negotiations. Walker also declined comment.

Other lawsuits filed by environmental groups and the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources are unaffected by a potential settlement of the federal grand jury investigation.

“Anybody pays $100 million dollars, it’s a confirmation that what they were doing was not right,” said Frank Holleman, an attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center.

The SELC filed one of the lawsuits, on behalf of several environmental groups.

“Not one of the sites in North Carolina is any cleaner today than it was when the grand jury was empanelled,” said Holleman. 

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