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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.

Duke Energy, Feds Reach Settlement On Coal Ash Spill

PHOTO: The coal ash pond at the Duke Energy power plant by the Dan River
NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
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A deal has been reached to end a federal grand jury investigation into Duke Energy over the Dan River coal ash spill.

"We are accountable for what happened at Dan River and have learned from this event," said Lynn Good, president and CEO of Duke Energy, in a statement. "We are setting a new standard for coal ash management and implementing smart, sustainable solutions for all of our ash basins.”

Under the settlement terms, Duke Energy will pay $68 million in fines and $34 million in community service and mitigation. Duke Energy says shareholders will bear the responsibility of the costs, not customers.

The agreement includes a five-year probationary period with a court-appointed monitor to ensure compliance.

The U.S. District Court in Eastern North Carolina still has to approve the settlement.

Other lawsuits filed by environmental groups and the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources are still in the courts.

Dave DeWitt is WUNC's Feature News Editor. As an editor, reporter, and producer he's covered politics, environment, education, sports, and a wide range of other topics.
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