Duke energy’s coal ash problems quietly spread

It’s no surprise that Duke Energy’s legendary coal ash problems don’t stop at the North Carolina border. As you may remember, Duke pleaded guilty to nine criminal violations of the federal Clean Water Act as a result of a massive coal ash spill in 2014 and mismanagement of dozens of ash ponds in North Carolina.

Duke’s crimes landed the company a $102 million fine and five years of probation. During the probation, Duke must complete environmental audits of all its coal plants—including those in Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, South Carolina and Florida—and take cleanup action when problems are found.

Duke Energy is the nation’s largest electric utility, but until the plea deal it had been mum about water contamination at its other plants. This changed during a recent meeting with Indiana state regulators. In a power point presentation, Duke Energy catalogued a long list of coal ash problems at five Indiana coal plants.

Duke gave regulators the run-down of problems at the Gibson, Cayuga and Wabash River power stations, which included dangerously contaminated water in residential wells near both the Gibson and Cayuga plants and a 7-foot diameter corrugated metal pipe in need of repair running under the Wabash River ash pond—much like the one that burst at Duke’s Dan River Plant. Duke also identified four historic coal ash dumps that require cleanup at retired or converted coal plants.

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