H.F. Lee plant classified as “intermediate” risk in coal ash report

GOLDSBORO, N.C. (WNCT) – The Duke Energy coal ash impoundments at the H.F. Lee plant in Goldsboro are considered to be intermediate risks by North Carolina officials.

Under state law, the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) had to classify each of the 32 impoundments in the state as low, intermediate or high.

The classifications impact the closure costs. H.F. Lee and other intermediate-risk or high-risk impoundments may cost up to $10 billion dollars to be excavated. The costs cannot be passed on to Duke Energy customers.

The draft came out on Thursday the same day as the deadline.

DEQ said it had to consider three factors in determining the risks. DEQ said the factors are impacts to groundwater, dam safety and impacts to surface water.

It managed to classify most of the impoundments but ran into trouble in classifying others.

“State officials identified data gaps and deficiencies within the report Duke submitted,” said DEQ Assistant Secretary Tom Reeder. “These deficiencies limited our ability to make definitive determinations for some impoundments.”

The state plans to modify its draft and hold public meetings in February and March in each county and ask for feedback. After that is complete, it will release final classifications.

Duke Energy has 14 facilities in North Carolina. It faced pressure in 2014 after a coal ash pond leaked toxic ash into the Dan River. The state has since sought to revamp policies and the oversight of coal ash.


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