Duke Energy officials give tour of Sutton coal ash ponds - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Duke Energy officials give tour of Sutton coal ash ponds

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Coal fired plant at the Sutton plant slowly being decommissioned. (Source: WECT) Coal fired plant at the Sutton plant slowly being decommissioned. (Source: WECT)
WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) -

Duke Energy officials said during a media tour of the Sutton plant timelines proposed by lawmakers for cleaning the coal ash ponds are "aggressive", including the five-year timeframe for remediating the millions of tons of coal ash at the Sutton Steam Plant in New Hanover County.

Spokesman Jeff Brooks said Monday that Duke Energy needs more time to determine the proper way to dispose of the 2.6 million tons of coal ash currently at the Sutton site, along with the other facilities across North Carolina. He believes proposed bills in the General Assembly just don't provide the time the company requires to do so.

"We have to find out what the best solution is for the Sutton Plant," Brooks said during a tour of the Sutton facility. "We need the time to determine what that solution would be. One of the challenges we see with proposed legislation that is being reviewed, is that the timelines are extremely aggressive. We've said it could take up to 30 years to excavate coal ash from all of the sites in our system."

Brooks said the time frame proposed by law makers to properly dispose of the coal ash seems overwhelming.

"The proposed bill is calling for 15 years to do that. These are going to be very aggressive timelines that are going to create significant challenges for the company," Brooks explained. "We want to be able to have the time to do the right evaluations, the right surveys so we can develop the right plan."

Brooks also said the configuration of the Sutton site is different than the company's Cape Fear Plant in Eden, where nearly 40,000 tons of ash spilled into the nearby Dan River, coating it with a toxic sludge for miles.

In Eden a stormwater pipe under the coal ash pit failed, causing a leak of material into the river. Brooks says that the Sutton facility is constructed in a different way, without similar pipes running under the ash pits.

"This is really a different situation than in Dan River," Brooks said. "We don't have a stormwater pipe running in the same way as that (Dan River) site, and we have a number of additional basins that discharge into a cooling pond as opposed to the river, so there is a lot of different scenarios going on here than at Dan River."

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