Duke Energy announced Thursday that it will appeal the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality’s decision that the power company must excavate nine coal ash pits at six of its facilities, including the Hyco and Mayo plants in Person County.
Duke Energy, in a statement released Thursday morning, said DEQ reached its decision without fully considering the science and engineering aspects of that ruling.
“We will provide those details when we file an appeal before the North Carolina Office of Administrative Hearings in the near future,” the company said in its statement.
Advocates for removal of the coal ash into new or existing lined landfills say Duke’s decision to appeal the ruling ignores the scientific data that suggests the coal ash, if left in their current locations, would continue to contaminate groundwater.
“For years, tens of thousands of North Carolinians have been telling Duke and the Department of Environmental Quality they demand these cleanups,” said Frank Holleman, a lawyer with the Southern Environmental Law Center, which is representing several groups in lawsuits seeking cleanup of the coal ash.
The way coal ash is stored became an issue after a leak in one of the coal ash pits in 2014 dumped millions of gallons of coal ash into the Dan River.
DEQ held a series of meetings near the six affected plants earlier this year to gather public feedback on the matter. The agency issued its ruling regarding how to handle the coal ash on April 1.
Duke Energy has until May 1 to formally file its appeal.