State report explains science behind initial coal ash classifications

From North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources:

RALEIGH – State environmental experts released the scientific data used to determine the risk level each coal ash pond presents to public health and the environment. This classification will determine the closure timeline for each of Duke Energy’s 33 coal ash ponds in accordance with a the framework developed by Governor Pat McCrory.

“Thanks to Governor McCrory’s unprecedented leadership to solving this decades-old problem, North Carolina is closer to the permanent closing all of Duke Energy’s coal ash ponds,” said Secretary Donald R. van der Vaart. “The report released today provides a clear path to permanently removing the threat coal ash presents to public health and the environment.”

The data assess the threat an individual coal ash pond poses using three major criteria: impact to surface water; impact to ground water and the structural integrity of the coal ash storage structures.

From this assessment, a coal site is designated as either, high, intermediate or low risk. Coal ash ponds designated as high-risk must be excavated and closed by December 2019; intermediate-risk ponds must be excavated and closed by December 2024; and low-risk ponds must be closed by December 2029. Impoundments were given a range if Duke did not provide sufficient information in a timely manner for DEQ to determine a specific priority level. DEQ is currently reviewing supplemental information provided by Duke Energy after the deadline in December and will provide modifications upon completion.

Starting in March, a public meeting will be held in each county where a coal ash facility is located for public comment and review. The public comment period will close on April 18. The information gathered from the public will help inform the department’s final classifications.

To read the comprehensive report click here.

To read the Executive Summary of the Draft Proposed Impoundment Classifications, click here.

To watch DEQ Assistant Secretary Tom Reeder’s videotaped statement, click here.

To read a Frequently Asked Questions document, click here.

For a map of draft classifications for each coal ash impoundment, click here.

About Hayley Benton
Current freelance journalist and artist. Former culture/entertainment reporter at the Asheville Citizen-Times and former news reporter at Mountain Xpress. Also a coffee drinker, bad photographer, teller of stupid jokes and maker-upper of words. I can be reached at hayleyebenton [at] Follow me @HayleyTweeet

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