Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK) has signed an enforceable agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for the cleanup of coal ash released into the Dan River from a retired coal-fired power plant in February.
According to Duke, the release stemmed from a broken 48-inch stormwater pipe under the Dan River Steam Station’s primary ash basin, which allowed an estimated 50,000 to 82,000 tons of ash and 24 to 27 million gallons of basin water to reach the Dan River.
Under the terms of the agreement, the EPA will oversee the Dan River cleanup in consultation with the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources and Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality.
"EPA will work with Duke Energy to ensure that cleanup at the site, and affected areas, is comprehensive based on sound scientific and ecological principles, complies with all Federal and State environmental standards, and moves as quickly as possible," said EPA Regional Administrator Heather McTeer Toney.
Duke will also reimburse the EPA for all past, present, and future oversight costs related to the site. Once removal activities are complete, Duke will then be obligated to assess any remaining contamination to determine whether additional actions may be needed.
According to Duke’s filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regarding the company’s agreement with the EPA, total costs for compliance are not currently able to be estimated but have been less than $1 million to date.
"This agreement represents a significant milestone in Duke Energy’s ongoing efforts to restore and monitor the Dan River and surrounding environment,” Duke said in a statement released on its website. “Duke Energy is fully committed to the river’s long-term health and well-being. River water quality has returned to normal and drinking water has remained safe."
Read the agreement here: Administrative Settlement Agreement And Order on Consent For Removal Action (pdf)