DENR: Six Duke Energy plants lack stormwater permits –

— As part of its investigation of a massive coal ash spill last month at a shuttered Duke Energy power plant in Eden, the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources has issued violation notices against five current or former Duke plants that failed to obtain permits to discharge stormwater into North Carolina rivers.

The violation notices follow two similar notices DENR issued Friday regarding the Feb. 2 ash spill in the Dan River. Those notices threatened $25,000-per-day fines for discharging water into the river without a permit and undisclosed fines for other water-quality violations.

After the spill, DENR began reviewing permits at all of Duke’s current or retired coal-fired plants in North Carolina. Regulators discovered that the Charlotte-based utility “had neither applied for nor obtained stormwater permits for six power plants.” The six include the Eden plant, as well as plants in Goldsboro, Roxboro, Wilmington, Stokes County and Rutherford County.

Each notice says Duke is liable for $25,000-per-day fines, but it’s unclear how long a period DENR could potentially enforce the fines.

“Our agency is determined to make sure that all of these facilities are in compliance with state and federal law,” DENR Secretary John Skvarla said in a statement. “We’re doing everything in our power to prevent environmental disasters like what we’ve seen at the Dan River. We are committed to protecting public health and the natural resources of our state.”

Four other Duke plants have stormwater discharge permit applications under review by the state Division of Energy, Mineral and Land Resources, while two more have separate stormwater requirements included in their existing wastewater permits.

One Duke plant has withdrawn its stormwater permit, and the final one has had its stormwater conditions rescinded. In both instances, the plants no longer conducted the industrial activity covered by federal stormwater regulations.

Duke has 30 days to respond to each of the violation notices.

“We will respond to the state,” Duke spokeswoman Paige Sheehan said.

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