NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT) - Duke Energy opened the gates of the Sutton Power Plant Monday to show off the removal, transportation and burial of seven million tons of coal ash.
The North Carolina Coal Ash Management Act requires ash from the retired plant to be stored at a lined facility by the summer of 2019.
The project is expected to cost millions of dollars.
The Sutton plant is one of four "high priority" sites for coal ash excavation.
The others include Asheville Steam Electric Plant, Dan Steam Station and Riverbend Steam Station.
"This coal ash is being lifted onto the conveyor system which will put it in rail cars to be hauled away to a site in Chatham County, North Carolina," said Jeff Brooks, a spokesman for Duke Energy. "We're also creating a lined landfill using a clay and synthetic barrier to help prevent any groundwater contamination on the site, here at the Sutton Plant."
Nearly seven million tons of coal ash will either be buried or relocated.
The plant was decommissioned in 2013 and it's been around since the 1950's. The coal portion of the plant is scheduled to be imploded as early as the Spring of '16.
"We're moving it farther away from the water," said Brooks. "That combination of factors, coupled with ground water monitoring to ensure the project is performing, as designed, will provide a safe and effective means of storing this coal ash in the future."
The plant site must be fully excavated by August 2019, according to a new state law.