U.S. Attorney’s offices across the state filed a series of criminal cases today accusing Duke Energy of negligent discharge of coal ash and coal ash wastewater into rivers adjacent to company coal ash plants.
In Raleigh, the misdemeanor charges were filed in connection to spills at the H.F. Lee Steam Plant.
In Charlotte, similar charges were filed arising out of spills at the Riverbend and Asheville plants, according to the Charlotte Observer.
And in the state’s Middle District in Winston-Salem, charges were filed for negligent discharge at the Dan River Steam Station in Eden and permitting and inspection violations at the Cape Fear Electric Steam Station in Moncure.
The charges follow Duke’s announcement earlier in the week of a possible $100 million settlement of the federal government’s investigation into spills at the plants.
In a statement released late yesterday, the company said that it had reached a proposed agreement with the federal government settling the charges that includes payments of $68.2 million in fines and restitution and $34 million for community service and mitigation — to be borne by shareholders, not customers.
The settlement agreement, which as of the time of this post has not been confirmed by the U.S. Attorney’s offices involved, must be approved by the court.
It also does not resolve claims in pending civil cases arising out of coal ash spills and does not appear, per the Duke Energy statement, to provide specifically for clean up at each of the company’s plants in North Carolina.
In response to the announcement, Frank Holleman, an attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center who represents several citizens groups in those pending actions, said in a statement:
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. The important points is this: 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.
Read the Criminal Informations in the Raleigh cases below.