This December, Duke Energy Progress will retire the coal units at Wilmington’s Sutton Plant, and switch to more energy-efficient natural gas operations. But while those coal units are being decommissioned, Duke will keep their ash basins operational for what they say is a short time. However, local environmental advocates are pushing to excavate the ash immediately, as they say its chemical components could pose public health threats. WHQR’s Katie O’Reilly reports that the Sierra Club and Cape Fear River Watch have teamed up to launch a petition demanding a timetable from Duke.
Duke Energy Progress will be closing its coal-fired power operation serving New Hanover County this December. Pollutants are slowly leaching from the coal-ash basins surrounding the Sutton plant toward groundwater wells that supply drinking water for the nearby Flemington community. However, decommissioning the plant’s ash basins will not guarantee safety for nearby groundwater supplies—not for a long time, that is.