The Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation and other environmental groups can join a legal settlement over coal ash pollution between Duke Energy Carolinas and state regulators, a Wake County judge has ruled.
The rulings are significant because they let the groups help shape the terms of a lawsuit settlement over ash at Dukes Riverbend power plant west of Charlotte and its Asheville plant.
The now-renamed N.C. Division of Water Quality filed suit against Duke last spring over hazards to public health and the environment from coal ash stored at the two plants.
The state filed suit only after the Riverkeeper and other groups gave notice they would file their own litigation against Duke.
Last month, Duke and the state filed a proposed settlement. Duke would pay a $99,000 fine, if a judge approves the settlement, and assess the sources and extent of ash-related contamination at the two plants.
Environmental groups blasted the proposal for not immediately forcing Duke to clean up its pollutants.
The Riverbend and Asheville plants have contaminated groundwater near their ash lagoons.
Arsenic near Riverbends discharge pipe has been detected in Mountain Island Lake, Charlottes water supply. The Asheville power plant is suspected of sending toxic pollutants into the French Broad River.
Superior Court Judge Paul Ridgeway of Wake County signed orders late Friday allowing the groups to intervene in the cases, making them formal parties.
The Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation, a persistent critic of Duke, will be allowed to join a settlement involving Riverbend. The Sierra Club, Waterkeeper Alliance and Western North Carolina Alliance will join the lawsuit over Dukes Asheville power plant.
The proposed Duke-state settlement was open to public comment for 30 days, ending Wednesday. State regulators say the settlement could force Duke to close its ash lagoons at the two plants.
Henderson: 704-358-5051 Twitter: @bhender
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