Duke Energy has agreed to clean up its coal ash stored beside Lake Robinson in Darlington County. For months, groups urged Duke Energy to excavate its ash from unlined pits to dry, lined, storage away from the water.
“This is a victory for South Carolinians who have raised concerns about coal ash pollution at Robinson, and it appears Duke has decided to do the right thing,” Frank Holleman, senior attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center told South Carolina Radio Network Thursday. “It is well past time that this dangerous and polluting coal ash storage be moved to safe, dry, lined storage away from Lake Robinson and Black Creek.”
Until recently, Duke Energy had reported that it stored only 660,000 tons of coal ash at Robinson and reported no serious problems there. But Holleman said they uncovered documentation that Duke Energy’s coal ash has contaminated groundwater with arsenic at 100 times in excess of the legal limits and that that the utility had dumped low-level radioactive waste in the unlined coal ash pit.
In addition, the documentation showed serious concerns about the safety of Duke Energy’s coal ash dam. The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control notified Duke Energy that it is violating South Carolina law due to its arsenic pollution at Robinson. Duke Energy has admitted that in fact it stores 4.2 million tons of coal ash at Robinson, more than six times as much as it had previously claimed.
With this announcement, all South Carolina utilities have agreed to clean up all the coal ash they store in the state in unlined riverfront pits.