RALEIGH, N.C. - North Carolina regulators issued notice to Duke Energy today that the company will be cited for violating environmental standards in connection with a massive coal ash spill that coated 70 miles of the Dan River with toxic sludge.
Two formal notices issued by the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources cite Duke for separate violations of wastewater and stormwater regulations. The agency could levy fines against Duke for the violations, but the amounts have not yet been determined.
The spill began Feb. 2 when an old stormwater pipe running under a 27-acre coal ash dump at a Duke's Dan River Steam Station in Eden collapsed. It took the company nearly a week to fully plug the leak.
State environmental Sec. John Skvarla, whose agency has been widely criticized in the wake of the spill, issued a brief statement: "These are violations of state and federal law, and we are holding the utility accountable."
The violation notices were issued three days after The Associated Press filed a public records request for a copy of Duke's stormwater permit for the Dan River plant, which the company was required to have to legally discharge rainwater draining from its property into the river.
Such a permit may have required testing and inspections that could have given early warning something was wrong before the collapse.
The agency responded that no such permit existed.
In a written statement, spokeswoman Bridget Munger said the state had historically considered the stormwater pipes at the plant to be part of the facility's wastewater permit covering discharges from the ash basins. State regulators had been talking with Duke since 2011 for the company to apply for the required stormwater permit, but that issue had not been resolved by the time of the spill, she said.