What they’re saying

DUKE ENERGY ... did negligently discharge pollutants from a point source into a water of the United States without a permit issued ... at the Dan River Steam Station in Eden, North Carolina, into the Dan River.

Count One of Criminal Bill of Information filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Greensboro

DUKE ENERGY ... did negligently violate a condition of its permit (and) did fail to exercise the degree of care that someone of ordinary prudence would have exercised in the same circumstance.

Count Two of Criminal Bill of Information

We are accountable for what happened at Dan River and have learned from this event. We are setting a new standard for coal ash management and implementing smart, sustainable solutions for all our ash basins. Our highest priorities are safe operations and the well-being of the people and communities we serve.

Lynn Good

Duke CEO

The U.S. Attorney’s Offices will have no further comment on this matter until after court proceedings.

U.S. Department of Justice news release

DENR is pleased to see that the U.S. Department of Justice has conducted a thorough investigation into environmental crimes committed by Duke Energy, and that several of the criminal counts against Duke Energy are consistent with the allegations contained in DENR’s civil lawsuits filed against the utility in 2013.

Again, the department would like to point out that this proposed settlement would not resolve DENR’s civil litigation over violations at coal ash ponds, which is ongoing. We also continue to investigate violations of state groundwater standards and to maintain our enforcement partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for civil violations of the Clean Water Act.

Finally, we note that any settlement would not relieve Duke Energy of any obligations under the state’s Coal Ash Management Act.

Drew Elliot

communications director, N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources

Today, Duke Energy has admitted that it committed environmental crimes in its coal ash storage across North Carolina. We informed Duke Energy and DENR of these violations of the Clean Water Act in 2013, yet Duke Energy’s polluting coal ash storage has yet to be cleaned up and has now resulted in criminal prosecutions.

Duke Energy cannot buy its way out of its coal ash scandal; it has to clean its way out. Duke Energy and its executives must show the people of North Carolina that they are sorry for these crimes by moving the dangerous and polluting coal ash to safe, dry, lined storage away from our rivers and drinking water supplies.

Frank Holleman

attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center, which represents 12 environmental groups in a court action to force cleanup of all 14 of Duke Energy’s coal ash sites

It’s good to see that federal enforcers have taken this issue seriously by diligently pursuing criminal charges and levying a substantial fine against Duke, and it’s good to see Duke acknowledge its culpability. However, we have yet to see that culpability turn into real action. There still remains leaking coal ash ponds at 10 of Duke’s sites, 10 communities in limbo, and a lot of ash that must be permanently and safely disposed.

Important questions remain, like exactly how the money will be spent and whether any individuals will be named, but most troubling is the currently unanswered question of whether DENR was aware of negligence and failed to act, or was unable to recognize the magnitude of the situation in the first place.

Amy Adams

campaign coordinator for Appalachian Voices, and a former DENR supervisor