Duke Energy will be in federal court for coal ash crimes

http://krqe.com/ap/duke-energy-will-be-in-federal-court-for-coal-ash-crimes/

Duke is scheduled to plead guilty Thursday to nine environmental crimes as part of a negotiated settlement with federal prosecutors requiring it to pay $102 million in fines and restitution. The proposed settlement over years of illegal pollution leaking from ash dumps at five of Duke’s plants has been sealed, so it wasn’t clear before the hearing whether people with contaminated well water will benefit.

The company’s Buck Steam Station is not one of the five plants in the negotiated settlement. But nearly three dozen homes surrounding Buck — an area called Dukeville — have received letters warning them not to drink the water…

Duke has long denied its 32 dumps in the state have contaminated the drinking water of its neighbors, suggesting any worrying chemicals found in the wells is likely naturally occurring.

But recent state-mandated tests found that more than 150 residential wells tested near Duke’s dumps have failed to meet state groundwater standards, and residents have been advised not to use their water for drinking or cooking.

Many of the results showed troublesome levels of toxic heavy metals like vanadium and hexavalent chromium — both of which can be contained in coal ash…

Nationally, there are more than 1,100 such dumps, most located near aging coal-fired power plants…

After denying wrongdoing for years, Duke recently conceded in regulatory filings that it had identified about 200 leaks and seeps at its 32 coal ash dumps statewide, which together ooze out more than 3 million gallons of contaminated wastewater each day…

http://www.southernstudies.org/2014/08/new-coal-ash-threat-identified-toxic-dust-hurting-.html

“Breathing dust can cause disease and drastically decrease the quality of life for communities along the fenceline of coal ash dump sites,” said co-author Lisa Evans, senior administrative counsel at Earthjustice. “We know coal ash is poisoning our water, and now we also know that it’s poisoning our air as well.”

An estimated 36 percent of coal ash produced in the U.S. is disposed of in dry landfills, usually at the power plant site where it’s generated, while about 21 percent is stored in wet impoundments. But even wet impoundments can lead to airborne coal ash problems through mismanagement, especially in dry climates.

The report highlights six communities threatened by airborne coal ash dust. Three of them are in the South…

The other communities that the report looks at are in Nevada, New Mexico and Pennsylvania. Most of the cases raise environmental justice concerns. For example, 90 percent of the residents of Uniontown, Alabama are African American, and 45.2 percent live below the poverty line. Many residents of the community near Louisville’s Cane Run plant live in trailers and mobile homes. The coal ash dumpsite at issue in Nevada is only 300 yards from the ancestral home of a band of Paiute Indians, while the New Mexico site is on a Navajo reservation where a quarter of the residents lack access to electricity even while living with its toxic waste…