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DEQ issues approvals to accelerate coal ash cleanup

RALEIGH – State environmental officials have issued permit approvals that will allow coal ash to be moved away from water sources at multiple Duke Energy facilities and reused as structural fill. The structural fill permit is a requirement under the 2014 Coal Ash Management Act, or CAMA, a law based on Governor McCrory’s plan for addressing the long-ignored coal ash issue.

The N.C. Department of Environmental Quality, or DEQ, on Thursday issued the necessary approvals to begin operations at the Brickhaven site in Chatham County, which will allow Green Meadow LLC and Charah Inc., to begin receiving coal ash for the mine reclamation project in Moncure.

Detailed operations plans and construction quality assurance (CQA) documentations were received and approved by N.C. DEQs Division of Waste Management. Also received by the section was a revised water quality monitoring plan. The section has reviewed the documentation and approved commencement of structural fill operations with the following future requirements:

  • The Facility will be operated in accordance with the most recent approved Operations Plan (referenced above) DIN 25099 and Water Quality Monitoring Plan (referenced above) DIN 25116.
  • If the facility’s permit is either amended or modified these documents will be added to the list of approved documents within the updated permit.
  • Charah, Inc must submit construction quality assurance documentation for all future construction and receive the appropriate approvals before operating.

Under CAMA, permits were reviewed by the public and modified in response to public input. Ash removal is currently underway at Riverbend Steam Station and Asheville Power Station under DEQ’s direction.

Earlier this month, DEQ issued stormwater permits to allow coal ash removal at Duke Energy’s Dan River facility and Rogers Energy Complex.

Charah and Green Meadow plan to remove coal ash from several Duke Energy facilities for use as structural fill in the Brickhaven open-pit clay mine in Chatham County. Engineered, protective liners will be installed at the Brickhaven mine pits before the coal ash is deposited. The liners are designed to capture leachate and prevent coal ash contaminants from reaching groundwater.

DEQ is reviewing the necessary permits for a second structural fill operation at an open-pit clay mine in Lee County.

Copies of the approved documents are available at the links below, and DEQs press release is available here.

Subcell 1A Approval DIN25132.pdf
Revised Ops Plan DIN25099.pdf
FINAL_Approved_WQMP_DIN25116.pdf

Newly issued stormwater permits allow coal ash removal at Dan River, Rogers Energy Complex

RALEIGH – State environmental officials have issued industrial stormwater permits for two of Duke Energy’s coal ash facilities as another step forward in permanently closing coal ash ponds statewide.

The N.C. Department of Environmental Quality on Wednesday issued National Pollution Discharge Elimination, or NPDES, industrial stormwater permits for the Dan River Combined Cycle Steam Station in Eden, N.C. and the Rogers Energy Complex (formerly Cliffside Steam Station) in Mooresboro, N.C. These are among the final permits Duke Energy must obtain before they can move forward with excavation and removal of coal ash at the two locations.

Wastewater discharge permits will be required for the utility to begin the process of removing wet ash stored in ponds. The department is awaiting review of federal Environmental Protection Agency decanting operations in North Carolina, which is delaying the issuance of wastewater discharge permits. Once the federal review is complete, the department may begin issuing the approvals for the decanting and dewatering processes, necessary steps before removal of wet ash from the storage ponds can begin.

Read the full news release here.

DEQ and Duke Energy reach $20 million settlement over coal ash-related groundwater contamination

The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality and Duke Energy signed an estimated $20 million settlement agreement today that holds Duke Energy accountable for groundwater contamination at all of its 14 coal ash facilities and requires accelerated cleanup of groundwater contamination at four sites. The agreement includes $7 million in fines and $10 - $15 million in expedited cleanup costs. Click here to read the signed agreement and here to read the order of dismissal. More information can also be found in DEQ’s press release. 

DENR posts groundwater assessment reports for Duke Energy coal ash facilities

State environmental officials announced today that all groundwater assessment report from Duke Energy's coal ash facilities have been posted.  

The site assessments are an important step toward cleaning up coal ash as the reports will be used by the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources to prioritize the closure of the coal ash impoundments.

DENR is reviewing the comprehensive reports to determine the extent of groundwater contamination under the three facilities. By state law, the reports are required to describe all exceedances of state groundwater quality standards associated with the coal ash impoundments. Once the state environmental agency determines the report is accurate and complete, Duke Energy will have up to 180 days to submit a proposed Groundwater Corrective Action Plan to the department for its review and approval.

DENR has required Duke Energy to submit site assessments for each of the utility's 14 coal ash facilities and received all reports by September 9th. All reports are posted at the link below:

http://edocs.deq.nc.gov/WaterResources/Browse.aspx?startid=221202

Groundwater Reconnaissance Well Water Sampling Study Results Posted

The N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) released individual well water sampling results from its groundwater reconnaissance well water sampling study today. The study provides a limited evaluation of the distribution of metals and other parameters that may be naturally occurring in the groundwater, and provides data for staff to develop a better understanding of background concentrations of metals and other parameters in areas that are not hydraulically connected to groundwater beneath Duke Energy’s coal-fired power plant facilities. A collective summary of results was posted Aug. 17. The individual results were not made available before DENR confirmed receipt of results to well owners via certified mail.

Spreadsheet
The updated spreadsheet provides a detailed account of the results at each individual well where
tests have been conducted. The spreadsheet compares the individual results of testing for coal ash-related metals and constituents with state and federal water quality thresholds, if such a threshold
exists. The spreadsheet includes 24 well test results. Of those tested, seven wells are in the vicinity of the Allen Steam Station, seven are in the vicinity of the Buck Steam Station, and 10 are in the vicinity of Marshall Steam Station. The spreadsheet of results is available here.

Health risk evaluations summary
DENR has provided a summary of the health risk evaluations (HRE) that were produced by the N.C.
Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and sent to homeowners along with the groundwater reconnaissance well water sampling study. The well water use recommendations are available for download at: NC DHHS Groundwater Reconnaissance Well Water Sampling Study Health Risk Evaluations.

Of the HRE’s, 20 of the 24 well owners received a “Do Not Drink” recommendation from the DHHS for exceedances of DHHS’ health screening levels or state Interim Allowable Maximum Contaminant Levels (IMAC). Do Not Drink recommendations for chromium 6 were issued based on the DHHS Health Screening Level of 0.07 ug/L. Do Not Drink recommendations for vanadium were issued based on the IMAC threshold of 0.3 ug/L. Of the 24 wells sampled, there were:
• 12 Do Not Drink Recommendations for chromium 6 and vanadium
• 7 Do Not Drink Recommendations for vanadium and resample for chromium 6
• 4 Incomplete/resample for chromium 6
• 1 Do Not Drink recommendation for iron and manganese

In carrying out the Coal Ash Management Act, DENR is also overseeing a comprehensive groundwater assessment of drinking water wells near all 14 of the state’s facilities with coal ash ponds. The comprehensive groundwater assessments will be the driving force behind the agency’s efforts to determine whether any contaminants in wells are naturally occurring or from the coal ash ponds. DENR will require Duke Energy to provide well owners with alternative drinking water supplies if the agency determines any contamination came from the coal ash ponds.

Updated well water testing results and information posted

The N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, or DENR, updated on Aug. 20 individual results from testing conducted at public and private water supply wells near Duke Energy’s 14 coal-fired electrical generating facility boundaries.

Spreadsheet updated
The updated spreadsheet provides a detailed account of the results at each individual well where tests have been conducted, and the state has confirmed that the well owners have received the results of those tests. The spreadsheet compares the individual results of testing for coal ash-related metals and constituents with state and federal water quality thresholds, if such a threshold exists. The spreadsheet includes 287 well test results and 42 resample test results.

Well test results summary updated
DENR also updated its summary of well test results. The summary of well test results includes information on 313 wells. The summary includes all results sent back to DENR, whereas the spreadsheet includes only results where well owner receipt has been confirmed. Thus, the summary numbers and the spreadsheet numbers are different.

Additionally, 73 resampling results have been reported for wells that previously received resampling recommendations from the DHHS. The 42 well resampling results that have been delivered to well owners are listed on the spreadsheet in addition to the well’s original sample results and are identified with an “R” at the end of the listing showing the identification of the well owner.

Health risk evaluations summary updated
DENR has updated the number of health risk evaluations that were produced by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services and sent to homeowners along with the well test results. The updated summary includes information on 327 health risk evaluations that have been received by well owners. Copies of the well water use recommendations are available to be downloaded by clicking on the following batch numbers: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 

DENR posts groundwater assessment report for Duke Energy's Dan River facility

State environmental officials posted today the groundwater assessment report from Duke Energy for its Dan River facility in Eden.    

Last week DENR posted groundwater assessment reports for H.F. Lee Power Station in Goldsboro, Sutton Power Station in Wilmington and Weatherspoon Steam Electric Plant in Lumberton.  The site assessments are an important step toward cleaning up coal ash as the reports will be used by the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources to prioritize the closure of the coal ash impoundments.

DENR is reviewing the comprehensive reports to determine the extent of groundwater contamination under the three facilities. By state law, the reports are required to describe all exceedances of state groundwater quality standards associated with the coal ash impoundments. Once the state environmental agency determines the report is accurate and complete, Duke Energy will have up to 180 days to submit a proposed Groundwater Corrective Action Plan to the department for its review and approval.

DENR has required Duke Energy to submit site assessments for each of the utility's 14 coal ash facilities and will be receiving all reports by September 9th.  All reports will be posted at the link below:

http://edocs.deq.nc.gov/WaterResources/Browse.aspx?startid=221202

 

DENR Releases Groundwater Reconnaissance Well Water Sampling Summary

The N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources today posted a summary of results from a reconnaissance sampling of groundwater quality in the vicinity of Duke Energy’s Allen Steam Station, Buck Steam Station and Marshall Steam Station coal-fired power plants.

The study provides a limited evaluation of the distribution of metals and other parameters that may be naturally occurring in the groundwater, and that may also be associated with coal burning activities.
This study was managed by the DENR Division of Water Resources Mooresville Regional Office and involved the collection of samples from twenty-four (24) water supply wells near the above mentioned coal–fired steam stations. In accordance with the Coal Ash Management Act, the groundwater samples collected were analyzed for the same constituents and parameters as the private and public wells tested near coal ash facilities under the well water testing program, and in support of the comprehensive site assessments. Test well locations were chosen for this study based on the following criteria:

• Located in areas that are not hydraulically connected to groundwater beneath Duke Energy’s coal-fired power plant facilities
• Positioned across surface water and groundwater divides from the facilities
• Situated in the same geologic units as the coal ash impoundments and private wells already being tested near coal ash facilities
• Targeting “newer” water supply wells to minimize the influence of older, potentially poorly constructed wells or aging well maintenance issues that could affect the samples. The tested reconnaissance water supply wells were installed between from 1996 and 2013.

Results:
The water samples collected from the 24 wells were analyzed for heavy metals and the other parameters as the agency’s well water testing program. The results from the limited study were sent to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services for health risk assessments.
The following are the results of the limited study:
• 13 well owners received “Do Not Drink” from the DHHS for exceedences for either DHHS’ health screening levels or state Interim Allowable Maximum Contaminant Levels, or IMAC. Twelve of the wells had exceedences for chromium 6 and vanadium, as well as one exceedance for iron and manganese.
• 7 well owners received “Do Not Drink” recommendations for vanadium and resample recommendations for chromium 6.
• 4 well owners received incomplete sample results with recommendations for resampling for chromium 6.
• 0 wells had exceedences of federal drinking water standards.

The source of contamination in a well, whether determined to be naturally occurring or not, does not influence its potential impact on health. Wells that exhibit constituent concentrations higher than the applicable health screening level, determined by the DHHS, may represent an increased health risk. Well testing results were sent to DHHS to perform a health risk evaluation, which have been mailed to residents along with potential well treatment options to remove or reduce contaminants from well water if needed. Individual results will be made available when DENR has confirmed receipt of results to well owners via certified mail.

Groundwater samples collected from the water supply wells in these study areas that met these criteria are believed to be representative of similar water quality conditions near the coal-fired plants in the DWR Mooresville Region.

While the groundwater reconnaissance study provides data for staff to develop a better understanding of background concentrations of metals and other parameters, limitations and additional factors must be taken into consideration:

• Concentrations of naturally occurring metals and other water quality parameters in groundwater can, in some cases, vary significantly over fairly short distances and depths in the subsurface
• Local groundwater quality is affected by a number of different variables, including but not limited to, the particular soil and rock chemistry in which a well is installed and the natural pH and oxidation state of the groundwater
• Well construction is an important consideration with respect to evaluating groundwater results since the turbidity of groundwater produced, the age, condition, depth and type of well casing used, pump and filtration equipment, position of the pump within a well, and the interval of an aquifer, or aquifers, affected by water production are all factors that potentially complicate the assessment of ground water site conditions
• Unknown susceptibility to other sources of impacts to groundwater such as septic systems and residential household and property applications of chemicals

While these factors limit the study results’ use as a statistical evaluation, the data is useful to illustrate the distribution of certain constituents throughout the area sampled.

In carrying out the Coal Ash Management Act, DENR is also overseeing a comprehensive groundwater assessment of drinking water wells near all 14 of the state’s facilities with coal ash ponds. The comprehensive groundwater assessments will be the driving force behind the agency’s efforts to determine whether any contaminants in wells are naturally occurring or from the coal ash ponds. DENR will require Duke Energy to provide well owners with alternative drinking water supplies if the agency determines any contamination came from the coal ash ponds.
 

DENR posts groundwater assessment reports for three Duke Energy facilities

RALEIGH - State environmental officials posted today groundwater assessment reports from Duke Energy for three facilities with coal ash ponds in eastern North Carolina.

The groundwater assessment reports for H.F. Lee Power Station in Goldsboro, Sutton Power Station in Wilmington and Weatherspoon Steam Electric Plant in Lumberton are an important step toward cleaning up coal ash as the reports will be used by the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources to prioritize the closure of the coal ash impoundments.

DENR is reviewing the comprehensive reports to determine the extent of groundwater contamination under the three facilities. By state law, the reports are required to describe all exceedances of state groundwater quality standards associated with the coal ash impoundments. Once the state environmental agency determines the report is accurate and complete, Duke Energy will have up to 180 days to submit a proposed Groundwater Corrective Action Plan to the department for its review and approval.

Governor Pat McCrory issued Executive Order 62 in August 2014, which set North Carolina on a path to address the safe cleanup of coal ash statewide and provided a framework for the comprehensive Coal Ash Management Act of 2014. Since the act became law, the state has worked rigorously to issue the permits necessary to safely remove coal ash and close all coal ash ponds. DENR has worked closely with the Environmental Protection Agency to comply with its new coal ash permitting requirements.

The groundwater assessment plans are available here: 

http://edocs.deq.nc.gov/WaterResources/Browse.aspx?startid=221202

 

 

Well Owner Risk Explanation Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

In an effort to provide well owners a better understanding of the regulations and health risk evaluation process, staff at the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has put together a health risk explanation FAQ sheet. This resource explains the regulations that apply to public and private drinking water supplies in North Carolina, discusses the health risk evaluations, and provides insight into how municipal water utilities safely provide drinking water to their customers. In cases where DHHS issued ‘do not drink’ orders, private well owners are advised to participate in individual consultations with DHHS staff to find ways to reduce the risks associated with drinking their well water. Additional information and resources are available at the end of the FAQ sheet.  

 

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Coal Ash Press Releases and Advisories

June 5, 2015 NCDENR Press Release - State issues permits for coal ash reuse projects.

June 2, 2015 - State cites companies with permit violations at proposed coal ash reuse project site

May 29, 2015 - State investigating possible environmental violations at proposed coal ash reuse site

May 15, 2015 - Stormwater permits issued today represent critical step to close coal ash ponds

April 21, 2015 - Most results from drinking well tests show exceedences of state groundwater standards near coal ash ponds

April 15, 2015 - Residents near coal ash ponds to receive results of drinking water well tests, health evaluations

April 10, 2015 - State environmental agency to host public hearings on coal ash reuse projects

April 6, 2015 - MEDIA ADVISORY: Public hearing on draft environmental permits near coal ash ponds

March 23, 2015 - State environmental agency opens public comment period on coal ash reuse permits

March 12, 2015 - Public comment period starts on proposed stream and wetlands impacts for coal ash reuse projects

March 10, 2015 - State fines Duke Energy Progress a record $25.1 million for coal ash contamination at Sutton Plant

March 6, 2015 - State agency drafts permits to better protect water quality near coal ash ponds until closure plans are approved

February 25, 2015 - State continues pursuit of coal ash contamination issues at Asheville Plant

January 30, 2015 - One year later, Dan River continues successful recovery

January 29, 2015 - MEDIA ADVISORY: DENR Secretary and staff to sample Dan River nearly one year after coal ash spill

December 19, 2014 - Expanding energy opportunities and cleaning up coal ash are among top 2014 news items for state agency

December 17, 2014 - Letters from state invite residents near Duke Energy coal ash impoundments to have water tested

December 11, 2014 - Regulators authorize repairs to dam structure at Duke Energy coal ash impoundment

November 26, 2014 - State receives permit applications for reuse of coal ash at two clay mines

November 24, 2014 - Insects in Dan River downstream of Feb. 2 coal ash spill appear to be thriving, state tests show

November 18, 2014 - State environmental committee to meet next week in Charlotte on rules for reusing coal ash

November 11, 2014 - CORREX: State's reclassification of cooling pond means more environmental protections, dam inspections

Novemeber 6, 2014 - State directs Duke Energy to resubmit groundwater plans for coal ash facilities

October 18, 2014 - Drinking water receptor survey shows wells near Duke Energy coal ash facilities

Sept. 30 - Duke Energy submits plans for groundwater assessment at coal ash facilities

Sept. 3 - State raises hazard classification at coal ash dams in Lumberton

Aug. 28, 2:42 p.m. - State environmental agency details actions on coal ash in letter to citizens group

Aug. 13, 12:04 p.m. - DENR requires Duke Energy to address coal ash issues

July 10 - State issues operating permit for first phase of coal ash landfill in Person County

June 26, 3:45 p.m. - State orders Duke Energy to address final set of pipe systems at coal ash facilities 
June 18, 11:53 a.m. - State orders utility to address more piping systems at coal ash dams 
June 16, 2:49 p.m. - State orders Duke Energy to submit repair plans for leaking pipes near coal ash facilities
Mar. 28, 3:00 p.m. - State regulators cite Duke Energy for dam deficiencies at Cape Fear plant
Mar. 25, 3:34 p.m. - Crack in earthen dam at Cape Fear power plant fixed, state reports
Mar. 21, 4:41 p.m. - State environmental agency, EPA to pursue joint approach to coal ash clean-up
Mar. 21, 3:34 p.m. - State environmental agency asks to withdraw from consent order with Duke Energy, maintains lawsuit
Mar. 21, 2:08 p.m. - DENR approves emergency response plan to address crack in earthen dam at coal ash impoundment
Mar. 20, 5:51 p.m. - State regulators responding to report of crack in earthen dam at Duke Energy facility   
Mar. 20, 1:39 p.m. - DENR taking action against Duke Energy for violations of wastewater permit at Cape Fear plant
Mar. 18, 3:57 p.m. - Testing of latest water quality samples near coal ash spill similar to earlier results
Mar. 14, 2:26 p.m. - State environmental agency takes action to address deficiencies at three coal ash facilities
Mar. 13, 4:19 p.m. - State environmental agency demands more answers from Duke Energy
Mar. 7, 4:01 p.m. - State regulators release water quality test results from additional Dan River spill location
Mar. 6, 3:29 p.m. - NCDENR's statement on today's ash pond ruling
Mar. 6, 2:36 p.m. - DENR cites Duke Energy for dam deficiencies, requests repair schedule
Mar. 5, 1:09 p.m. State regulators to request plans, video of pipes at coal ash facilities and announce inspections
Mar. 4, 3:58 p.m. - Dam safety inspection at Cliffside Plant; further monitoring results from the Dan River
Mar. 3, 12:25 p.m. - State issues notices of violation for five more Duke Energy plants
Feb. 28, 4:56 p.m. - State agency issues violation notices, enforcement recommendations to Duke Energy for coal ash spill
Feb. 28, 3:38 p.m. - DENR responding to discharge from pipe at Duke Energy power plant in Rutherford County
Feb. 27, 2:45 p.m. - Latest update on Dan River coal ash spill activities
Feb. 25, 2:51 p.m. - State environmental agency considers requiring Duke Energy to move coal ash from Dan river site
Feb. 24, 4:23 p.m. - State environmental officials start sampling fish tissue near Dan River coal ash spill site
Feb. 21, 4:13 p.m. - Aluminum and iron still exceed surface water quality standards near coal ash spill site
Feb. 18, 5:06 p.m. - DENR orders Duke Energy to halt discharges from second pipe under coal ash basin
Feb. 18, 12:44 p.m. - MEDIA ALERT: State environmental agency to hold briefing for news media 
Feb. 17, 5:25 p.m. - State environmental agency starts water quality sampling at John H. Kerr Reservoir
Feb. 14, 7:20 p.m. - State probing structural integrity of second pipe under Dan River coal ash pond 
Feb. 13, 4:40 p.m. - State environmental agency investigating wastewater discharge at site of coal ash spill
Feb. 12, 4:16 p.m. State releases additional water quality test results from Dan River coal ash spill
Feb. 11, 11:43 a.m. - State regulators outline action on coal ash ponds
Feb. 9, 2:24 p.m. - State regulators clarify reports on arsenic test results near coal ash spill
Feb. 7, 7:38 p.m. - DENR releases remaining test results from water quality sampling near coal ash spill
Feb. 6, 6:59 p.m. - State test results of water quality sampling near coal ash spill released
Feb. 6, 4:41 p.m. - Governor McCrory Directs Duke Energy to Bring Coal Ash Spill Under Control
Feb. 5, 6:23 p.m. - DENR expects water sampling results from river near coal ash spill this week
Feb. 4, 5:53 p.m. - DENR releases initial water test results from Duke Energy coal ash spill
Feb. 4, 9:04 a.m. - DENR Secretary Skvarla heading to Eden, as agency staff members work with Duke Energy to control coal ash spill
Feb. 3, 5:32 p.m. - DENR staff working with utility at site of Dan River spill in Rockingham County


N.C. DHHS Health Advisories for the Dan River

Feb. 12 Health Advisory

 

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