An eye on the water as ash basins close.
As it prepares to shut down 14. coat plants in the state, Duke Energy is working with North Carolina to protect groundwater from the ash basins that will also be closed.
The company is submitting comprehensive groundwater assessments to the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources for each of the plants.
According to Duke Energy, the assessments are based on thousands of hours of work by outside experts and contain information about the groundwater near the coal ash sites.
The company and the agency will use this and other information to determine how best to protect groundwater as ash basins are closed.
According to Duke Energy, the data were gathered through the installation of about 900 new monitoring wells and more than 5,000 soil and water samples across the state.
An assessment of operations at the H.F. Lee Energy Complex in Goldsboro found, for instance, that groundwater near ash basins is flowing away from neighbors' private wells to isolated areas where there are no private wells. Studies also find that water in the Cape Fear, Neuse, and Lumber rivers has not been affected by ash basin operations.
An overview and executive summaries of the reports will be posted at www. duke-energy.com/ash-management.
The next phase of work includes additional sampling and computer modeling to better understand how groundwater conditions are expected to change over time. Where groundwater impacts need to be addressed, the sampling results and modeling will inform the engineering solutions to protect groundwater over the long term.
In addition to completing groundwater assessments, Duke Energy has ash excavation in progress at three coal plants (the Asheville and Riverbend plants in North Carolina and the W.S. Lee plant in South Carolina) and recently announced its recommendation to excavate an additional 12 basins in North Carolina for technical reasons unrelated to groundwater concerns.
It continues to study remaining basins in North Carolina and will use this groundwater data and modeling to inform recommendations for effective basin closures.