August 28, 2014

Duke to update state officials on coal ash in SC

W.S. Lee Steam Station (Image: Duke Energy)

W.S. Lee Steam Station (Image: Duke Energy)

South Carolina’s Public Service Commission will hear from Duke Energy on Monday over its plans to avoid spills of toxic coal byproducts, a month after a Duke coal ash pond spilled in North Carolina’s Dan River.

Duke Energy spokesman Ryan Mosier told The State newspaper that the utility plans to discuss its coal ash facilities in both South Carolina and North Carolina at the meeting. Fly ash is a byproduct of coal-fired plants that includes elements such as arsenic and cadmium.

The Southern Environmental Law Center will also attend the meeting. The group released a report Friday, showing that researchers had discovered elevated arsenic levels in the ground at Duke Energy’s W.S. Lee steam station near Belton. The report said some of the arsenic levels exceeded safety standards. The group speculates that the pollution stems from groundwater seepage at the former coal plant’s ash ponds near the Saluda River.

Duke is in the process of retiring two of its coal-fired reactors at the Lee Station by 2015. A third reactor will be converted to natural gas.

A spill from a coal ash dump in North Carolina on Feb. 2 coated 70 miles of the Dan River in toxic sludge. Since then, Duke has come under fire from environmentalists and lawmakers over its reliance on unlined coal ash dumps. South Carolina Electric & Gas and Santee-Cooper have agreed to remove the ash away from riverbanks near their plants in Conway and Eastover and instead into dry storage.