MONCURE: Duke Energy stands by permit in wake of Cape Fear leak - WHLT 22 Connecting the Pine Belt

Duke Energy stands by permit in wake of Cape Fear Plant leak

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MONCURE, N.C. -

For nearly 90 years, Duke Energy's Cape Fear Plant in Moncure was one of the largest of the company's coal facilities. With five ponds, the plant can hold close to 4.5 million tons of ash.

The plant is currently in the process of being decommissioned after Duke Energy retired the site in 2012. A company spokesperson said it was more cost effective to shut down than it was to update the plant to meet increasing emission regulations.

On Thursday, WNCN toured the outside of the plant with Duke Energy to see the place where the company was cited back in March.

"Our teams identified the need to make a repair to the pipe," explained spokesman Jeff Brooks, pointing at a riser in the middle of the pond. "To do that, we felt it was in the best interest of safety to lower the water in the basin."

The North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources said the company pumped about 61 million gallons of waste water into the Cape Fear River. Duke maintains it did not violate its  permits and have asked the state to retract the violation.

"We believe we worked within our permit," Brooks said.

Duke Energy is still evaluating how it will dispose of its ash at the Cape Fear plant, and the company estimates clean-up costs could reach $10 billion -- a cost many worry will be passed along to customers.

Duke Energy also hosted an information fair in Moncure on Thursday. Booths were set up where people could come ask questions and talk to Duke Energy employees.

People at the meeting said they are still very concerned about how the company will handle the millions of tons of ash stored in ponds across the state.

Lib Hutchby drove from Cary to attend the meeting, but said she was expecting more of a presentation.

"They want to convince us they're responsible, and I have a hard time believing they're responsible when they knew something is leaking into the water and they haven't cleaned it up until their forced to," Hutchby said. "Then they pass the rate hike to clean it up to me the customer."

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Jonathan Rodriguez

Jonathan Rodriguez is an investigative reporter and member of the WNCN Investigates team. His storytelling specialty is connecting the dots to get to the truth, with a goal of delivering results for our community. If you have something you’d like WNCN to investigate, contact Jonathan.

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