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North Carolina Department of Environment Quality

NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Guest - Coal Ash in N.C.

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Coal Ash in North Carolina

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Electric utilities operate seven generation plants in North Carolina that currently burn coal to generate electrical power for much of the state; six additional facilities previously burned coal but have converted to other energy sources or closed. Historically, one way to manage the coal ash generated by the coal burning process was to mix it with water and store it in ash ponds.

On Aug. 1, 2014 Governor Pat McCrory issued Executive Order 62 (EO 62) addressing coal ash in North Carolina. In order to protect groundwater and drinking water from adverse impacts from coal ash impoundments at publicly-owned electric utilities throughout North Carolina, the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources was instructed to continue to implement all regulations and laws that: 

  • Expeditiously assess coal combustion products impoundments at public electric utilities;
  • Immediately initiate a survey of drinking water wells to determine any contamination from coal combustion products impoundments;
  • Take appropriate action to halt any violations of the law where necessary;
  • Mandate remediation plans for all facilities where violations are found;
  • Continue to prosecute active lawsuits in furtherance of the order;

Additionally, the North Carolina General Assembly passed legislation based on the Governor's Coal Ash Action Plan known as the Coal Ash Management Act (CAMA, S729). This legislation requires cleanup of coal ash and closure of coal ash ponds at all 14 coal ash sites and gives oversight to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). The law also set hard deadlines to end wet coal ash production in North Carolina and imposes new, protective requirements on large projects using coal ash as fill material. The law includes new requirements around public notification of spills, providing drinking water to affected families, and monitoring of groundwater around the ash ponds.   

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