10 Duke Energy ash ponds labeled ‘high hazard potential' by EPA - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

10 Duke Energy ash ponds labeled ‘high hazard potential' by EPA

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While the investigation into the coal ash spill on the Dan River continues, the focus is already shifting south to Duke Energy's ash pond facilities surrounding the Charlotte area. 

"We'll be looking at our ash handling situations at each of our plants," said Duke Energy Spokesman, Tom Williams. "We're doing it with a fresh eye and with lessons learned. If changes are warranted, which I expect there will be, we will be making those changes."

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Duke Energy owns ten coal ash ponds in North Carolina with a "high hazard potential" rating. 

There are two ash ponds with a "high hazard potential" rating on Mountain Island Lake in Mount Holly. There is another one located in Belmont. 

"A ‘high hazard potential rating' indicates that a failure will probably cause loss of human life," according to the EPA website. "It merely allows dam safety and other officials to determine where significant damage or loss of life may occur if there is a structural failure." 

The EPA said, in 2012, Duke Energy's structures were safe.  

While the Dan River ash pond didn't sustain structural failure, it did suffer a major leak. And this is not Duke Energy's only recent pollution dispute. 

Last summer, the Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation filed a lawsuit against Duke Energy for violating the Clean Water Act.

The Catawba Riverkeeper said Duke Energy's coal ash lagoons have leaked into Mountain Island Lake at unsafe levels.

Duke Energy disagrees, saying its facilities are safe and regularly monitored. 

"We have emergency response plans at all of our sites for anything that can happen," Williams said. "Whether it's a fire, we will work with local fire departments. You know, there are plans at each of the sites to address these things." 

Williams told WBTV Duke Energy's coal ash ponds have not tainted consumers' drinking water.

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