State blames EPA for coal ash cleanup delays

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCT) – The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has delayed efforts to clean up coal ash, according to the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

A release from DENR says the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) delivered its fifth permit revision for Duke Energy’s coal-fired Riverbend plant. DEQ says the EPA has decided to take another 90 days to review the permit.

“For well over a year, the federal Environmental Protection Agency has prevented the cleanup of coal ash ponds in North Carolina,” said Tom Reeder, assistant secretary for the environment at DEQ. “The state has worked tirelessly to meet every deadline in the coal ash law despite delays and interference from the EPA. The federal government is treating North Carolina differently than other states and once again is single handedly preventing us from moving wet ash with another delay.”

Coal ash stored in ponds much get approval by the EPA before the ponds can close.

“While we understand the permits are new to everyone, including the federal EPA, we need decisions to be made so that we can move forward with the coal ash pond closure process,” said Jeff Poupart, water quality permitting section chief at DEQ. “While other states seem to be bypassing the permitting process for decanting activities, EPA made it clear that North Carolina must wait for federal approval. We are stuck in a holding pattern until the EPA makes a decision on how to proceed.”

Coal ash stored in dry stacks is already being moved.

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