RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina’s environmental agency sought late Monday to delay its own settlement with Duke Energy a week after a busted pipe at one of the company’s coal ash dumps spewed enough toxic sludge into the Dan River to fill 73 Olympic-sized pools.
Lawyers for the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources asked a judge to disregard their proposed settlement with the nation’s largest electricity provider. Under the deal, Duke would have paid fines of $99,111 over groundwater pollution leaking from two coal dumps like the one that ruptured Feb. 2.
The state’s letter came one day after a story by The Associated Press in which environmentalists criticized the arrangement as a sweetheart deal aimed at shielding Duke from far more expensive penalties the $50 billion company might face under the federal Clean Water Act. The settlement would have required Duke to study how to stop the contamination, but included no requirement for the company to actually clean up its dumps near Asheville and Charlotte.