Duke Energy Hit With New Illegal Dumping Allegations

Duke Energy is already responsible for a massive leak of toxic coal ash into waterways in North Carolina but now they’ve been hit with charges by state environmental regulators that they illegally dumped 61 million gallons of unfiltered coal ash waste into a tributary to a major river system.

North Carolina regulators on Thursday cited Duke Energy for illegally and deliberately dumping 61 million gallons of toxic coal ash waste into a tributary of the Cape Fear River, which provides drinking water for several cities and towns in the state.

The incident marks the eighth time in less than a month that the company has been accused of violating environmental regulations. The North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said Duke — notorious for the February Dan River disaster which saw 82,000 tons of coal ash released into state waters — was taking bright blue wastewaterfrom two of its coal ash impoundments and running it through hoses into a nearby canal and drain pipe.

Duke is reportedly permitted to discharge treated wastewater from the ash ponds into the canal, but only if they are filtered through so-called “risers,” pipes that allow heavier residue in the water to settle out. DENR told ABC News on Thursday that Duke’s pumping bypassed the risers.

“We’re concerned with the volume of water that was pumped and the manner it was pumped,” DENR Communications Director Drew Elliot told ABC. “It did not go through the treatment facility as it should have.”

Isn’t it time to start putting some company executives in prison? Fines do nothing, they get paid as the cost of doing business and it’s probably far less of a financial hit than it would be to have to dispose of the waste properly. The only way this stops is if there are serious consequences for the people in charge.

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  • colnago80

    Actually, this is an excellent reason for accelerating the phasing out of coal burning power plants in favor of natural gas.

  • matty1

    Yes, punish the executives. I think the idea of corporate personhood has damaged some peoples ability to understand this. There is a perception that the company literally has a mind and can be persuaded or dissuaded from a course of action, or people look for the owners, who are probably a few thousand pensioners who didn’t even check what was in the portfolio when they asked a financial advisor to invest their money. We need to recognise that the decisions of large companies are the decisions of their directors and the consequences of those decisions need to flow back the same way.

  • Mr Ed

    Non-problem. Duke hurts the environment, people stop doing business with Duke, Duke changes or goes out of business. I’ve been promised that the free market will take care of situations like this.

  • raven

    “This scam of Agenda 21, this scam of humans are poisoning the earth, is a scam,” Brannon explained. “They are using that to control you, to control me, to control life.” (Brannon being the Tea party senate candidate in NC.)

    I’m sure Brannon doesn’t have a problem with Duke Energy dumping coal ash waste everwhere.

    After all, according to him, it is impossible for humans to poison the earth. Presumably god is cleaning up after Duke Energy. Or something.

  • Alverant

    In companies the people responsible don’t pay fines. They fire lower level employees and/or raise prices to make up for the loss in profit they think they’re entitled to.

  • A Masked Avenger

    Prison is great, but they should be forced to clean up all the damage done by this dumping, and the failure of their ash pond. If that puts them out of business, too bad: businesses need to learn that, at minimum, they will always be on the hook to fix any damage they do.

  • http://www.ranum.com Marcus Ranum

    I like the idea of corporate personhood. Send the entire corporation to prison!

  • http://www.clanfield.net janiceintoronto

    Oh screw the poor people. Let them drink blue water.

    If it’s good enough for the toilet, it’s good enough for them.

  • Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    Prison is great, but they should be forced to clean up all the damage done by this dumping, and the failure of their ash pond.

    …with their tongues.

  • matty1

    send the entire corporation to prison

    Sorry Bill I know you’re only the janitor at the corporations HR office but some guy you’ve never met broke the law so you go to jail.

  • busterggi

    “Fines do nothing, they get paid as the cost of doing business”

    Not in my experience. I used to work for a company that was heavilly fined several times publically. In private those fines were ‘negotiated’ to nothing by political appointees in the DEP who received buckets of money as ‘donations’ from the company. I doubt anything has changed.

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    Don’t think of it as “negative externalities” think of it as “added value for shareholders”. And even the inevitable taxpayer-funded cleanup adds to GDP! They’re literally creating jobs!

  • D. C. Sessions

    DENR have been shielding Duke for years. Every time a private party brings a Clean Water Act suit against them, DENR steps in and settles for, essentially, another promise to do no more.

    I suppose it’s possible that this time is different. Maybe Lucy really will hold the football steady.

  • Suido

    Colnago80 #1 said:

    Actually, this is an excellent reason for accelerating the phasing out of coal burning power plants in favor of natural gas.

    No. It’s a reason to phase out coal plants for renewables. Solar thermal hits the sweet spot of max generation during the evening peak baseload, and wind/PV/hydro can supply the rest. Natural gas is cleaner and safer than coal, but that’s a purely relative assessment.

    The US has an average of 42 natural gas explosions per year on pipelines/at plants, dating back to 1990.

    Why tie ourselves to yet another dangerous and environmentally damaging fossil fuel industry (including fluctuating fuel prices) for decades, when we could skip the stepping stone and go straight to renewables?


  • Suido

    Please note – that wiki list is probably laughably incomplete, and just the tip of the iceberg.


  • freehand

    colnago80: Actually, this is an excellent reason for accelerating the phasing out of coal burning power plants in favor of natural gas.


    Those resources should be used to transition to renewable energy, or possibly some of the modern passive-safety breeder nuclear plants. Natural gas also adds to the green house gas buildup, only not quite as fast as coal does. It is probably every bit as efficient in poisoning the drinking water, however.