Proposed state permits for three Duke Energy power plants in the Charlotte area will be the focus of a hearing Wednesday night in Lincolnton.
The permits allow the plants to drain wastewater, from coal ash ponds and other sources, into Mountain Island Lake and lakes Norman and Wylie.
The proposed permits would also make legal the 23 illicit seeps from the ash ponds that Duke identified to the state last year.
Seeps at the Riverbend plant, west of Charlotte, were among the nine federal misdemeanors Duke has agreed to settle for $102 million.
But state legislation that became law in September gave Duke the option of including the seeps in wastewater discharge permits. Duke has identified 200 seeps at its 14 coal-fired power plants in North Carolina.
The state Department of Environment and Natural Resources says including the leaks in discharge permits will ensure they’re monitored until Duke closes its 32 ash ponds statewide. That’s due to happen by 2029.
DENR says it found no potential that the ash pond discharges or seeps at the Charlotte-area power plants – Riverbend, Allen and Marshall – would contaminate the lakes.
The department applied stricter limits on four elements, including arsenic, mercury, selenium and nitrate, that the plants must meet by 2019.
The Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation has criticized the permits for placing no limits on other potentially toxic ash elements such as cobalt and boron.