Duke settled following Dan River disaster last year
Charlotte, N.C.-based Duke Energy Corp. has agreed to settle charges that it violated the federal Clean Water Act by spilling coal ash into the Dan River in North Carolina last year. The company will pay $102.2 million in penalties and restitution.
Last week, the U.S. Department of Justice filed criminal charges against Duke subsidiaries for multiple violations of the Clean Water Act.
The charges included unlawful failure to maintain equipment and unlawful discharge of coal ash and coal ash wastewater at multiple facilities. An estimated 82,000 tons of coal ash spilled out of an unlined containment storage basin into Dan River on Feb. 2, 2014, due to a broken storm pipe.
The Duke/Justice Dept. agreement cites nine misdemeanor violations of the Clean Water Act associated with that disaster. The agreement calls for “$68.2 million in fines and restitution and $34 million for community service and mitigation” to be paid by shareholders, not customers.
Duke Energy reported profits of $1.88 billion for 2014, or $2.66 per share. Revenue was reported at about $23.9 billion.
The deal with federal investigators includes a five-year probationary period with a court-appointed monitor to ensure compliance with provisions of the agreement.
A little over a year ago, an unlined coal ash pond at Duke Energy’s Dan River Steam Station leaked an estimated 82,000 tons of coal ash sludge into the Dan River on the North Carolina–Virginia border after a drainage pipe running under the pond failed, pouring sludge into the river. More than 70 miles of that waterway was affected by the spill.
Sources: USDOJ, USEPA