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NC officials order Duke Energy to address pipes at coal ash dams

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RALEIGH, N.C. -

State officials are once again ordering Duke Energy to address the piping systems in coal ash dams at three of the utility’s power plants.

On Wednesday, the North Carolina Division of Energy, Mineral and Land issued a “notice of deficiency” letter to Duke Energy for leaks the agency found at the Weatherspoon Steam Station in Lumberton.

The state discovered several “gushers, drips and stains” in the pipes while inspecting video the agency ordered the utility to provide after a ruptured pipe caused a coal ash spill Feb. 2 at the utility’s Dan River facility in Eden.

The state could fine Duke Energy up to $500 a day per violation if the company does not provide a schedule for repairing the pipes by July 20.

The state agency has also sent the utility letters this week that require the company to provide the state with an engineer’s assessment for the piping systems in the coal ash dams at the Sutton Steam Station in Wilmington and the Asheville Steam Station. No major leaks were discovered in the pipes at either of those plants.

Earlier this week, the Division of Energy, Mineral and Land Resources ordered Duke Energy to submit repair plans for leaking pipes at coal ash dams at five other power plants in the Charlotte area and western North Carolina. The state agency is also calling on the utility company to provide engineering assessments for aging pipes at three of those plants.

None of the leaks are posing an imminent threat to the structural integrity of any of the dams, said Tracy Davis, director of the Division of Energy, Mineral and Land Resources.

State engineers are continuing to review video of other pipes in dams at coal ash sites, and could issue further notices if conditions warrant.

The state’s probe is part of an ongoing investigation the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources has been conducting of all 33 coal ash sites since the Feb. 2 coal ash spill.

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