State finally sues Duke for endangering Charlotte's water supply

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Apparently following the axiom that late is better than never, North Carolina is suing Duke Energy over carcinogenic pollution in Charlotte's major water source, Mountain Island Lake. Seven months after a Duke University study found high levels of arsenic in Mountain Island Lake - and two months after a much-publicized report from the Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation and the Southern Environmental Law Center on pollution in Mountain Island Lake - the N.C. Division of Water Quality says Duke's coal ash has resulted in pollution that could threaten Charlotte's water supply with carcinogens that can cause central nervous system damage. The Division of Water Quality is adding its claims regarding Mountain Island Lake to an already-filed lawsuit over coal-ash pollution at an Asheville power plant.

Duke Energys two unlined, high-hazard coal-ash ponds on Mountain Island Lake (aka Charlottes drinking water)
  • J. Wes Bobbitt
  • Duke Energy's two unlined, high-hazard coal-ash ponds on Mountain Island Lake (aka Charlotte's drinking water)

In March, the Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation and the Southern Environmental Law Center accused Duke of polluting the lake via leaks, or seepage, from coal-ash settling ponds next to the Riverbend Steam Station. Those two, which successfully sued a utility in South Carolina last year for the same problem, gave Duke 60 days to clean up the pollution or face a lawsuit under the Clean Water Act.

Duke denies the charges, naturally, and says seepage from the coal-ash lagoons is completely normal (thus backing one of the main claims of coal-ash opponents), but, magically, will not harm the lake's water quality. Nonetheless, a Duke statement said, "... We believe we have diligently complied with Riverbend's water discharge permit . . . and we expect to work closely with [the state] on this matter." Duke had no comments this time around about the wonders of "clean coal," nor did it reveal if the Duke Energy building (AKA "Voltron" or "The Lunchbox") would be colored a special gray hue anytime soon.

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