Wilmington’s Sutton Plant is one of five statewide Duke Energy coal operations being decommissioned—and the closing of this one is of high priority to lawmakers. In November, Duke Energy retired Sutton’s coal operations. Although it’s now a natural gas plant, more than two million tons of dried coal ash—the waste generated after coal is burned—remains on the site. And the legislation that will determine exactly how much time Duke has to dispose of it all is pending in the General Assembly’s current session. WHQR has this look at the Sutton Plant’s retired coal operation.
The controversy surrounding the ongoing impact of coal ash pollution from Wilmington’s Sutton Energy Plant is intensifying. A biologist commissioned by the Southern Environmental Law Center released a report today claiming that coal ash waste is elevating levels of selenium pollution in Sutton Lake. Environmental advocates say this is killing and deforming thousands of fish, and thus threatening local fishing and tourism industries. WHQR’s Katie O’Reilly reports.
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.