Yadkin River steam plant not prioritized in coal ash cleanup legislation

North Carolina lawmakers continue to consider legislation requiring Duke Energy to clean up coal ash dumps at power plants in the state, including one upstream from Lake Tillery.

First placed online in 1926, Duke Energy's Buck Steam Plant is located on the Yadkin River in Rowan County, N.C., about 40 miles upstream from Lake Tillery. (Duke Energy photo)

First placed online in 1926, Duke Energy’s Buck Steam Plant is located on the Yadkin River in Rowan County, N.C., about 40 miles upstream from Lake Tillery. (Duke Energy photo)

The bill, passed by the State Senate and sent to the House of Representatives Wed., Jun. 25, would give Duke Energy 15 years to transfer the ash from the plant sites to lined landfills or sell it to the construction industry.

Four coal ash dumps are identified as “high priority” and would require action within five years. They are Dan River Steam Station in Rockingham County, Riverbend Steam Station in Gaston County, Asheville Steam Electric Generating Plant in Buncombe County, and Sutton Plant, in New Hanover County.

North Carolina State Senator Gene McLaurin (D-Richmond) of Rockingham offered an amendment to have the Buck Plant in Rowan County added to the priority list, but the action failed. The Buck Plant is on the Yadkin River, about 40 miles above Lake Tillery.

McLaurin, who represents constituents in five counties including Stanly, Anson and Richmond, cited concerns about protecting clean drinking water for families who depend on the Yadkin and Pee Dee Rivers.

Officially known as the “Coal Ash Management Act of 2014”, the state action follows a coal ash spill at a Duke Energy plant that contaminated the Dan River in Rockingham County in Feb. 2014.

Duke Energy operates the Tillery Hydroelectric Plant near Mount Gilead, and N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory was for many years an attorney for Duke.

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