North Carolina’s Environmental Management Commission has denied four environmental groups’ plea for a ruling that would have made Duke Energy clean up groundwater contamination near ash ponds at its coal-fired power plants.
Contamination has been found within a 500-foot radius around the coal ponds, called a compliance boundary. The N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources has interpreted state rules to say that contamination inside that boundary at power plants built before 1984 isn’t considered a violation.
The Southern Environment Law Center asked the environment commission to read the rules differently, forcing Duke to clean up the contamination inside the boundary. The center represents the Waterkeeper Alliance, which includes Charlotte’s Catawba River Foundation, the Sierra Club, the Asheville-based Western North Carolina Alliance and Cape Fear River Watch in Wilmington.
The commission denied the petition Monday. D.J. Gerken, an Asheville-based attorney for the law center, said the groups will wait for a written order before deciding whether to appeal to Superior Court.
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