Duke Energy faced a $25.1 million penalty by the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources on the grounds of violating groundwater regulations at L.V. Sutton Steam Electric Plant in Wilmington, North Carolina. Duke Energy has appealed against the fine and has claimed that the fine is excessive and unnecessary.
According to the state president- North Carolina, Paul Newton “The Sutton plant generated electricity for millions of customers and operated in compliance with North Carolina law and environmental regulations. We closely monitored groundwater, shared the data with the state for decades, and voluntarily acted to ensure residents near the Sutton plant continue to have a high-quality water supply.”
Duke Energy has filed the appeal with North Carolina Office of Administrative Hearings. According to the appeal, it makes an argument on NCDENR that it has crossed the bounds by fining utility for 1,822 days of alleged groundwater violations. The company has claimed that NCDENR had samples only for 27 days and hence, judging 1,822 days on the basis of just 27 days of samples is unacceptable and unnecessary. The appeal also states that NCDENR created its own method of calculating the fine and made a mistake of putting $24 million more than other fines issued by environmental regulators in similar cases before.
The plan of Duke Energy is to shut down 32 ash basins across North Carolina starting with Asheville, Dan River, Riverbend and Sutton. The state is slated to issue new wastewater permits to start closing the ash basins. The permits will be issued in the coming months. We will have to wait and see how the appeal from Duke Energy fares in the courts.