Environment

Coal ash leaks from Rogers plant landfill into nearby creek

The Rogers Energy Complex, formerly known as Cliffside, is in Cleveland and Rutherford counties. (Photo: Duke Energy)

About 1,000 gallons of stormwater leaked from a lined coal ash landfill at Duke Energy’s Rogers plant and reached a nearby creek, the utility announced. The leak, attributed to heavy rains in the area, was discovered during an inspection yesterday morning. However, Duke officials have said neither the creek nor the Broad River sustained significant contamination from the leak.

This is the second reported leak from the Rogers Energy Complex since August. That’s when 15,000 to 50,000 gallons of stormwater spilled into the Broad River, also because of heavy rains. At the time, Duke Energy told WNCN that “steps have been taken to prevent the issue from occurring again.”

There are three coal ash basins — one active and two inactive — at the Rogers plant. (The closure plan is here: CCR CLIFF CLOSE PLN IMP)

In May, the NC Department of Environmental Quality ranked the Rogers active ash basin and one inactive basin as “intermediate risk,” which would require them to be dewatered and excavated. However, Duke has repaired the dam and will provide permanent water supplies to nearby residents. Those actions would then reduce those dam ranking to “low,” and allows Duke to leave the ash in place with a cap and liner and long-term monitoring. A second inactive basin will be excavated.

Environmental advocates have demanded that Duke excavate ash from all of its basins at the 14 coal-fired power plants in North Carolina, and placed in dry, lined storage or recycled for concrete. So far, requirements under the Coal Ash Management Act and litigation filed by the Southern Environmental Law Center have forced Duke to excavate basins at eight of those sites: Riverbend, Asheville, Sutton, Dan River, Cape Fear, Lee, Weatherspoon and Buck. However, the coal ash could be capped in place at six remaining plants: The one basin at Rogers, plus Mayo, Roxboro, Belew’s Creek, Marshall and Allen.

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