Duke Energy could legally leak pollutants from some of its coal ash dumps under new wastewater permits proposed by North Carolina regulators.
On Friday, just days after federal prosecutors filed criminal charges against Duke over the leaks, the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources issued new draft permits for three of Duke's coal ash sites. More are to follow.
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Among them is Riverbend Steam Station near Charlotte, one of five plants cited Feb. 20 with Clean Water Act violations. Duke says it will plead guilty to nine misdemeanor counts and pay $102 million to settle the case.
The proposed permit would add "12 potentially contaminated groundwater seeps" to Riverbend's allowed discharges, which state officials called an interim measure until the dump is closed within a few years.