McCrory tells Duke to move ash away from water - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

McCrory tells Duke to move ash away from water

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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -

When North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory walked the Dan River coal ash spill site for the first time, he promised to check up on Duke Energy's clean-up efforts.

"We're gonna double-check everything that Duke is doing to ensure that we have a short-term solution and a long-term solution," he said.

But weeks after the February 2 spill, remnants of the 39,000 tons of waste that traveled 80 miles downstream is still endangering aquatic life. And Duke doesn't have a clear plan for long-term solutions either.

Company execs keep saying that they're considering their options.

"We'll be looking at our ash handling situations at each of our plants," Duke Energy Director of Corporate Media Relations Tom Williams told WBTV.

But they already know what many experts say is the safest solution - moving their coal ash ponds away from drinking-water sources.

Neither state nor federal laws have mandated that change so far. In fact, the state has been accused of slapping Duke on the wrist for contaminating water at two other coal ash sites. Last week, Raleigh station WRAL reported that North Carolina DENR Secretary John Skvarla tried to deny it.

"Any implication or any allegation that DENR and Duke got together and made some smoky backroom deal with a nominal fine is just absolutely not true," Skvarla said in the press conference in Raleigh.

He also claimed he's on the same side as environmentalists, then called their demand that Duke move its coal ash to safer locations too extreme.

"We're talking 14 facilities and 32 coal ash ponds," Skvarla said. "I can assure you, it's not that simple."

Suddenly, though, there seems to be a change in that philosophy. Governor McCrory just wrote Duke's CEO a letter...Skvarla signed it...saying the state wants Duke to move its coal ash ponds.

"As a state," the letter reads, "we will not stand by while coal ash ponds remain a danger due to their proximity to where so many North Carolinians get their drinking water."

When asked for Duke Energy's response to the letter, Williams sent this statement:

"We will respond to the state and work to determine the most appropriate resolution. As we have stated, our company is taking another look at how we manage ash basins."

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