MONCURE, N.C. -- While poring over regulatory documents for Duke Energy coal ash ponds, environmentalists at the Waterkeeper Alliance grew suspicious of the way the giant utility was handling the toxic ash waste left over from burning coal.
They decided to send up a team in an aircraft to photograph Duke's shuttered Cape Fear coal-burning power plant and ash ponds, tucked into piney woods in this tiny community in central North Carolina.
The photos revealed what the Waterkeeper Alliance says is evidence that Duke, the nation's largest electric utility, is deliberately pumping toxic coal ash wastewater from the containment ponds into a canal that eventually feeds into the Cape Fear River, a source of drinking water for downstream cities.
It has been a bad year for Duke Energy:In the photos, two portable pumps and hoses can be seen drawing water from a coal ash pond and dumping into the canal and into nearby woods. According to the environmental group, that is a criminal violation of the Clean Water Act and state laws.
The allegations came as Duke and state regulators are under intense public and political pressure following the massive Feb. 2 Duke Energy coal ash spill that coated the Dan River with toxic coal ash sludge for at least 70 miles in North Carolina and Virginia. Hazardous heavy metals such as arsenic and lead were dumped into the river.
That spill, at a retired Duke Energy coal-fired plant in Eden, N.C., has led to allegations by environmental groups that state regulators have been soft on Duke and have ignored coal ash seepage for years from 14 Duke plants in North Carolina. It was the third-worst spill in U.S. history
Federal prosecutors have announced a criminal investigation into the relationship between the state agency and Duke Energy. They have said they are seeking evidence of any money or gifts exchanging hands.
Officials at the state agency and at Duke Power have been issued subpoenas to appear before a grand jury this week.
In a statement, Duke Energy said the pumps were permitted by state regulators.
The Democrat Party's Connection to Duke Involves Hundreds of Millions Of Dollars.
Duke Energy, ALEC member and the nation's largest utility, has played a major role in bringing the Democratic National Convention to Charlotte, North Carolina in 2012. The Democrats took all this money while having the nerve to preach about the environment and global warming. 'Climate change' was only mentioned once in 80 speeches at the convention.
Duke Energy writes off $10-million loan for Democratic convention February 13, 2013
Duke Energy has already written off a $10-million line of credit the company guaranteed to help produce September’s Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., boosting the role of corporate funds in putting on the event.
And that $10 million wasn’t all the loot that Jim Rogers passed back to the Democratic Party.And:
The company donated $1.5 million in in-kind contributions to the host committee for office space, furniture and other expenses. Rogers personally gave $339,000 in cash and in-kind services, including the hiring of a fundraising assistant.
Duke also gave $4.1 million to a separate fund that could accept corporate money to put on parties boosting the city.
Duke and Progress Energy each got $200 million in federal stimulus money for smart grid improvements in 2009. Duke’s Cliffside power plant won a $125 million “advanced coal” tax credit from the Department of Energy, and a plant under construction in Indiana got $460 million in federal, state and local incentives.
Duke Energy got the maximum allowable amount in taxpayer money under the stimulus program.
The DOE funds will support two projects: $200 million — the maximum allowed per project under the DOE Smart Grid Investment Grant Program — will assist in modernizing Duke Energy’s power distribution system; $4 million will support the installation of digital equipment on the transmission system in the Carolinas.
No intervention by the FEDS and the EPA as expected, while the state regulators will take the political heat for the current situation. The Democrats took the money.