RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The state of North Carolina says it has secured an agreement with Duke Energy to excavate nearly 80 million tons of coal ash at six facilities.
The Department of Environmental Quality said in a Thursday press release that it will be the largest coal ash clean up in the nation’s history.
It also settles various legal disputes between Duke and parties that include environmental and community groups.
For decades, coal ash has been stored in landfills or in ponds, often near waterways into which toxins can leach.
Duke Energy will remove coal ash from the Allen, Belews Creek, Cliffside, Marshall, Mayo and Roxboro sites into on-site lined landfills.
“This agreement is a historic cleanup of coal ash pollution in North Carolina, and the Department of Environmental Quality and community groups throughout the state have provided essential leadership in obtaining it,” said Frank Holleman, senior attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center.
Stephen De May, North Carolina president of Duke Energy, said in a statement that the agreement “significantly reduces the cost to close our coal ash basins in the Carolinas for our customers while delivering the same environmental benefits as full excavation.”