State environmental regulators have rejected Duke Energy’s plans to test groundwater at its 14 coal ash plants and told the company to try again, the agency reported Thursday. The utility said it would comply.
The plans Duke submitted on Sept. 26, which was the deadline the state set for submitting them, were not detailed enough, according to the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources. The utility must come up with better models for collecting data about groundwater contamination, according to a letter from regulators dated Tuesday.
The plans don’t have sufficient detail about surface water and bed sediment sampling, either, according to the letter.
In August, Gov. Pat McCrory issued an executive order telling Duke Energy to take a number of steps toward cleaning up coal ash, including testing groundwater for the extent and source of any contamination.
The DENR letter applies to all of the coal-fired power plant sites, and raises issues specific to each one. The state has given the company 30 days to submit revised plans.
Update: “We share the agency’s interest in conducting detailed groundwater assessments that will drive to appropriate closure decisions that are based on good science and engineering,” Duke Energy spokesman Jeff Brooks said in an emailed statement. “We will incorporate the state’s feedback to arrive at plans that meet their expectations. We remain focused on closing ash basins, which ultimately will address groundwater issues.”