(FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) - The N.C. Department of Environmental Quality has ordered Duke Energy to excavate all remaining coal ash impoundments across North Carolina.
DEQ said after conducting a rigorous scientific review of Duke Energy’s proposals for Allen, Belews, Cliffside/Rogers, Marshall, Mayo and Roxboro facilities, and holding public listening sessions in impacted communities, they determined "excavation of all six sites is the only closure option that meets the requirements of the Coal Ash Management Act to best protect public health."
The coal ash must be disposed of in a lined landfill, DEQ announced.
“Today’s action sends another clear message that protecting public health and natural resources is a top priority of the Cooper Administration," DEQ Secretary Michael S. Regan said.
Duke Energy must submit final excavation closure plans to DEQ by August 1, 2019. In those plans, Duke must propose where excavated coal ash will reside and estimate how long that process will take.
By law, DEQ must reject any plan that does not protect public health and the environment.