Duke cited for lack of permits

Mar. 05, 2014 @ 04:24 AM

In addition to monitoring a storm water pipe leak, the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has also cited Duke Energy for not obtaining mandatory federal permits.

In all, notices of violation were issued to five Duke Energy power plants, including the Cliffside Steam Station.

It is the same location where state officials are monitoring a failed storm water pipe that leaked commingled storm and wastewater last week.

The violation at Cliffside is for the plant not having a National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) storm water permit.

According to DENR spokeswoman Bridget Munger, plants are required to have a NPDES wastewater and NPDES storm water permit to regulate discharges. Munger said the Cliffside Steam Station has never applied for a storm water permit. The plant does have a wastewater permit but no storm water regulations are written into the wastewater permit.

The permits became commonplace after the 1972 passage of the Clean Water Act which included sections addressing different types of pollution.

Now, Duke Energy faces the possibility of hefty fines for not having the federally-mandated permits.

“We have the authority to levy a fine of $25,000 per day per violation,” Munger said. “The amount of time is what will have to be figured out.”

Duke Energy spokeswoman Paige Sheehan spoke briefly on the permit violations, only to say “we will respond to the state.”

The Cliffside Steam Plant is the subject of monitoring by state officials after a tension pond which contained storm and wastewater overflowed to a secondary pond and into a corrugated pipe that failed, leaking the water into the ground last Thursday.

“They are capturing that discharge and pumping and hauling it to an existing ash pond at the facility,” Munger said.

State officials said the leak never reached the Broad River, the closest body of water to the plant.

Sheehan said Duke Energy would not comment beyond a press release issued by DENR on Friday detailing the leak.

Duke and DENR are reeling after a Feb. 2 event at Duke’s Eden station that resulted in nearly 80,000 tons of coal ash being spilled into the Dan River.

State officials contend that while coal ash is located at the Cliffside Steam Station, the recent leak did not involve any coal ash.

“There is no coal ash flowing from that pipe,” Munger said. “I don’t know about the entire facility but the discharge has been stopped and it is being hauled to a location where it is safe.”

On Thursday, staff from the state Dam Safety Program inspected the coal ash pond in Cliffside. DENR said they expect a complete report from the Cliffside facility today.

Duke has been required by DENR to collect samples of the discharged water to be tested. Those test results have not been received.