Bringing The World Home To You

© 2023 WUNC North Carolina Public Radio
120 Friday Center Dr
Chapel Hill, NC 27517
919.445.9150 | 800.962.9862
91.5 Chapel Hill 88.9 Manteo 90.9 Rocky Mount 91.1 Welcome 91.9 Fayetteville 90.5 Buxton 94.1 Lumberton 99.9 Southern Pines
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
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.

DENR Approves Coal Ash Pits In Lee, Chatham Counties

Lee County coal ash
Dave DeWitt

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources announced today that it has approved the necessary permits to transform two abandoned clay mines into coal ash storage pits.

Duke Energy intends to ship coal ash from several of its facilities across the state to the Colon Mine Site in Lee County and the Brickhaven No. 2 Mine Tract “A” in Chatham County. It was awaiting the DENR permits before it began moving ash. The Lee and Chatham County facilities will be the first lined coal ash pits in the state.

The Coal Ash Management Act of 2014 requires Duke Energy to remove coal ash from unlined pits at four high-priority sites in North Carolina by 2019 and all sites by 2029.

“Issuance of these permits is a critical step in our efforts to permanently close all of North Carolina’s coal ash ponds,” said Tom Reeder, an assistant secretary for DENR, in a statement. “Our department will continue to monitor these projects closely to ensure that public health and the environment are protected.”

Some grassroots environmental groups, like the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, have tried to organize local residents to protest the re-classification of the mines. Other environmental groups, such as the Southern Environmental Law Center, have stated approval of the plan.

In a statement, Duke Energy said said that in the initial phase of work, ash from the retired L.V. Sutton Steam Station and Riverbend Steam Station will be transported to the mine sites.

Duke Energy's contractor, Green Meadow LLC, will need additional state and federal permits before it can begin construction near wetlands.

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.
More Stories