Where will Duke Energy's ash go? - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Where will Duke Energy's ash go?

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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -

State regulators now say Duke Energy must submit solid plans for removing coal ash from four of its plants – Asheville, Riverbend, Dan River and Sutton - by November 15th.

But where will all of that ash go?

There are 4.7 million tons of it at Riverbend alone, sitting right beside Charlotte's main source of drinking water, and that is the only site for which Duke has proposed an ash removal plan so far - it wants to bury the Riverband ash at Charlotte Douglas airport.

It would be a colossal undertaking - according to a city study released yesterday, "it would take five years to remove all the coal ash from {Riverbend}...using a standard dump truck, it would require approximately 220 trips per day" to the airport.

"There are without a doubt some short term negative impacts, from traffic to the potential for reducing air quality through just dust, safety, road noise, just the quality of life from all those trucks running that route day in day out for five years," Assistant City Manager Hyong Yi said in a city meeting Wednesday.

But even that is not why city officials have rejected Duke's proposal so far. They did so, because they've got another idea.

"We've asked Duke Energy if they would consider a land swap," Yi said.

Yi says perhaps Duke can put the ash at the airport, if it's buried in an area the city chooses and if Duke actually takes ownership of that segment of land, giving Charlotte Douglas this other property Duke owns close to the airport in exchange - an operations center on Wilkinson Boulevard.

"We have always said that we would like the operations center, and we would consider that a win," said Interim Aviation Director Bent Cagel.

But for Duke, losing its property here would be a loss.

"It's a very important part of our operations," said Duke Energy representative Scott Sutton, also at the city's meeting. "There are many departments that use it. There's engineering, there's construction."

One thing is clear – moving Duke's ash is starting to look like a very complicated process. And the clock is ticking.

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