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Ash Management & Safe Basin Closure

Ash Management & Safe Basin Closure

  • Sutton Plant ash excavation and rail operation

    Sutton Plant ash excavation
    and rail operation

    Video

  • Coal ash delivered at Brickhaven Mine

    Coal ash, a nonhazardous material, delivered by train at Brickhaven Mine

    Video

  • a Duke Energy scientist checks monitoring equipment

    Our progress
    toward
    safe basin closure

    Video

  • Safely closing ash basins

    Closing
    Ash Basins
    Safely

    Video

Our Progress

What we're doing to advance ash management practices across our system.

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Have a Question?

Email your questions to us at: CoalAshQuestions@duke-energy.com.

Our Plans

We are modernizing our generation fleet – retiring old coal units and transitioning to cleaner, more efficient energy sources. With help from independent experts, we continue to make significant progress closing nonhazardous coal ash basins in the Carolinas in ways that put safety first, protect the environment, minimize impact to communities and manage costs.

a timeline illustrating advances in ash management 1920s to 2020s

Safe Basin Closure

State and federal laws outline two main options to close ash basins: capping in place or excavation. In either scenario, water will be safely removed from each basin in a way that protects water quality in the nearby lake or river. Both options provide benefits to groundwater, though excavation may be appropriate for certain technical reasons. Each basin is unique, and the closure plan should be customized to the site to ensure it is most effective

We are currently excavating ash from six sites in the Carolinas to fully lined, permanent storage locations. Work continues to identify smart solutions to safely close the remaining basins across the states we serve.

Independent Experts

Independent experts, including a national advisory board, engineers, scientists and dedicated teams at Duke Energy are spending thousands of hours studying data, building enhanced groundwater and surface water protection programs and identifying closure options that protect people and the environment in a cost-effective manner.

The National Ash Management Advisory Board (NAMAB) is led by Dr. John Daniels, P.E., a former program director at the U.S. National Science Foundation and current professor and chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

Working with Duke Energy engineers and scientists, NAMAB developed a set of guiding principles for safe basin closure. These principles provide a sustainable framework for promoting recycling, protecting groundwater and minimizing impacts to local communities and the environment, while safely anticipating major storms, flooding and even seismic events.

Safely Recycling

Duke Energy is committed to the safe, economic and beneficial reuse of coal ash, which is nonhazardous. In 2015, we recycled about 63 percent of the ash we produced. It’s used in making concrete or as a structural fill material instead of soil. Our recycling projects have included safely using coal ash to reclaim former clay mines and as structural fill for a project at the Asheville Regional Airport.

Fly ash can also be reused as a valuable ingredient in a wide range of concrete products, including roads and bridges. Bottom ash can be used as an aggregate to replace sand and gravel and in the production of concrete blocks. Additional uses for coal ash include constructing embankments and for cement production.

Research is ongoing into potential reuse applications for coal ash, and we are exploring the use of technology that burns residual carbon out of the coal ash making it more suitable for concrete production. We will continue exploring opportunities to beneficially reuse coal ash as part of our closure planning strategy.

Coal ash recycling and reuse

Plant Locations & Information

Click a plant name to see our current ash management plan for that location. Learn more on our plant-specific webpages about plant happenings at each site.

  • Operating Plant Sites
  • Retired Plant Sites
  • Reuse & Recycling Projects

Retired Dan River Plant

Eden, NC

Scope of work: Permanently close the Dan River ash ponds, excavate ash from the site and beneficially reuse the material or relocate it to a lined structural fill or landfill.

Timeframe: This work would start immediately upon confirming the destination for the ash and securing the necessary approvals. North Carolina passed a law in August 2014 giving this work a deadline of Aug. 1, 2019.

Learn More

Retired Dan River Plant aerial view

Asheville Plant

Asheville, NC

Scope of work: Continue moving ash from the site to a lined structural fill and look for similar ash reuse opportunities where allowed under coal ash regulations. We will permanently close the Asheville ash ponds by excavating and relocating material to a lined structural fill or landfill.

Timeframe: North Carolina passed a law in August 2014 giving this work a deadline of Aug. 1, 2019.

Learn More

Asheville Plant aerial view

Rogers Energy Complex (Cliffside Steam Station)

Mooresboro, NC

Scope of work: Convert unit 5 to dry fly ash management or retire the unit.

Timeframe: If the conversion to dry fly ash option is selected, this work would be completed within 30 to 36 months of receiving the necessary permits.

Rogers Energy Complex aerial view

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Retired Riverbend Plant

Mount Holly, NC

Scope of work: Permanently close the Riverbend ash ponds, excavate ash from the site and beneficially reuse the material or relocate it to a lined structural fill or landfill.

Timeframe: North Carolina passed a law in August 2014 giving this work a deadline of Aug. 1, 2019.

Learn More


Retired Riverbend Plant aerial view

Retired Sutton Plant

Wilmington, NC

Scope of work: Permanently close the Sutton ash ponds, excavate ash from the site and beneficially reuse the material or relocate it to a lined structural fill or landfill.

Timeframe: North Carolina passed a law in August 2014 giving this work a deadline of Aug. 1, 2019.

Learn More

Retired Sutton Plant aerial view

Airport Project

Asheville, NC

Scope of work: Coal ash from the Asheville Plant has been transported to the Asheville Regional Airport since 2007 for a permitted, lined structural fill project. Remaining ash from the site will continue to be transported to the airport for beneficial reuse opportunities.

Colon Mine

Sanford, NC

Scope of work: Coal ash will be transported by rail and used in an engineered structural fill at this open-pit clay mine to provide a safe, lined storage facility, while accelerating the return of the mines to usable land. Located in Lee County, the Colon Mine has a capacity of 8 million tons.

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Brickhaven Mine

Moncure, NC

Scope of work: Coal ash will be transported by rail and used in an engineered structural fill at this open-pit clay mine to provide a safe, lined storage facility, while accelerating the return of the mines to usable land. Located in Chatham County, the Brickhaven Mine has a capacity of 12 million tons.

Brickhaven Mine

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Retired Cape Fear Plant

Moncure, NC

Scope of work: Duke Energy is evaluating a number of safe storage solutions for the ash from Cape Fear and will provide additional details about the final selection in the comprehensive excavation plan that will be submitted to North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

Timeframe: TBD

Learn More

Retired Cape Fear Plant aerial view

Robinson

Hartsville, SC

Robinson aerial view

Learn More

W.S. Lee

Belton, SC

Scope of work: Permanently close the W.S. Lee ash basins, excavate ash from the inactive basin and ash fill area to a lined landfill, and continue to evaluate fully lined storage options for the remaining ash at the site.

Timeframe: Duke Energy is prepared to begin implementing the ash removal plan within 15 days of receiving necessary approvals and permits. Based on current estimates, excavation of ash is expected to begin 90 days after receipt of all approvals and permits or April 2015 at the earliest.

Learn More

W.S. Lee aerial view

Protecting Public Health & Safety

Duke Energy is committed to operational excellence and protecting the environment and public health and safety.

Environmental Compliance Plans

The Truth About Toxicity

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has evaluated coal ash extensively and has repeatedly determined that it is not a hazardous waste, most recently in December 2014. Even if you come into contact with ash, studies show you have to ingest large amounts to potentially experience adverse effects.

Water Quality

We routinely monitor water quality and fisheries' health near our ash ponds to ensure the environment is protected. This guide for private well owners provides answers to some of the most common questions asked by those who obtain their water from private wells.

Read more about our N.C. comprehensive groundwater studies.

Dam Safety

Duke Energy's dam safety program includes regular dam inspections by company engineers and external experts, operations and maintenance procedures that meet state and federal regulations and ensuring personnel are trained to respond in the unlikely event of an emergency.

About Coal Ash

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, about 33 percent of all electricity generated in the United States comes from coal. All coal naturally contains inorganic matter from the rocks and minerals in the coal seam where it was mined. Coal-fired power plants burn coal to make steam, and the steam turns turbines to generate electricity. When that coal is burned, the inorganic matter in the coal becomes nonhazardous coal ash. For decades, utilities across the nation have stored that ash in basins.

  • How Coal Plants Work

    In a coal-fired steam station, water is turned into steam, which in turn drives turbine generators to produce electricity. Here's an overview of how the process works.

  • Coal Ash 101

    Burning coal to generate electricity creates two types of ash. About 80 percent is fly ash and 20 percent is bottom ash. Less than 1 percent contains trace elements. Substances in ash are similar to those in soil and household garbage. Coal ash is a nonhazardous substance, as ruled by the EPA.

    Duke Energy has already transitioned most of its coal-fired units to store ash in dry landfills and has multiple measures in place to safely manage the ash that is stored in basins until the basins are permanently closed.

Video & Images

View videos and see pictures related to ash management at Duke Energy. More will be added as they are available.

  • L.V. Sutton Boiler #2 Implosion – May 1, 2016
    Duke Energy implodes the second of three boilers at the retired coal-fired L.V. Sutton Plant in Wilmington N.C. A previous implosion at the Sutton Plant site on April 10, 2016 demolished boiler #1. The last boiler is expected to be imploded in Fall 2016.
  • L.V. Sutton Boiler and Precipitator Implosion – April 10, 2016
    On the morning of April 10, 2016, crews imploded one of three boilers at the L.V. Sutton Plant in Wilmington, N.C. The coal-fired units were retired in November 2013 when a new, gas-fired 625-megawatt combined-cycle unit began operation.
  • Crews demolish the Cape Fear Plant Unit 5 turbine deck
    Crews demolish the Cape Fear Plant Unit 5 turbine deck. Demolition of the plant and associated buildings is expected to be completed by the second half of 2016.
  • Brickhaven Mine Structural Fill Project coal ash rail unloading operations
    Crews at the Brickhaven Mine Structural Fill Project unload coal ash from an 85-car train from Sutton Plant in Wilmington. Each fully-capped car contains between 90-100 tons of coal ash. Ash is taken from the rail load out area to be stored on site in a fully-lined structural fill. Each storage cell contains multiple layers of natural and synthetic liners and an advanced moisture collection system, to ensure groundwater remains protected at all times. A fully loaded train takes around 12 hours to fully process and send back to the source plant.
  • Closing Ash Basins Safely: Excavation
    Duke Energy’s Zenica Chatman and Garry Miller talk about how we will safely close ash basins by using the method of excavation.
  • Closing Ash Basins Safely: Consolidate, Cap and Protect
    Duke Energy’s Zenica Chatman and Garry Miller talk about how we will safely close ash basins by using the method of consolidate, cap and protect.
  • Closing Ash Basins Safely - June 2015
    Duke Energy’s Zenica Chatman and Garry Miller talk about how we will safely close ash basins in ways that are safe and protect people, the environment and groundwater.
  • Managing Our Coal Ash - Jan. 6, 2015
    Jennifer Jabon, a Duke Energy employee, describes from the Sutton Plant in Wilmington, N.C. how coal ash is produced, what the company is doing to close ash basins and the process for determining if closure costs will be included in customer rates.
  • Sutton Plant ash excavation begins - October 30, 2015
    The first coal ash from Sutton Plant in Wilmington, N.C. is excavated and transported by truck to the Brickhaven Mine in Chatham County, N.C.
  • First load of coal ash delivered at Brickhaven Mine - October 23, 2015
    First truck load of ash being delivered and safely placed at the Brickhaven mine engineered structural fill project.
  • Safely Removing Coal Ash From W.S. Lee Steam Station - May 28, 2015
    W.S Lee Steam Station in South Carolina is safely removing coal ash to a fully lined landfill.
  • Riverbend Steam Station Ash Excavation Begins - May 21, 2015
  • Robinson Plant Ash Basin B-Roll - June 2015
    Duke Energy’s retired Robinson Plant is located in Hartsville, S.C. This b-roll package includes footage of the retired plant and the ash basin. Right-click on this link to download the video file.
  • Roxboro Plant Ash Basin B-Roll - June 2015
    Duke Energy’s Roxboro Plant is located in Semora, N.C. This b-roll package includes footage of the plant, the two ash basins and the on-site landfill. Right-click on this link to download the video file.
  • Mayo Plant Ash Basin B-Roll - June 2015
    Duke Energy’s Mayo Plant is located in Roxboro, N.C. This b-roll package includes footage of the plant, the ash basin and the on-site landfill.
  • Rogers Energy Complex Ash Basin B-Roll – July 2015
    Duke Energy’s Rogers Energy Complex (Cliffside Steam Station) is located in Mooresboro, N.C. This b-roll package includes footage of the ash basins. Right-click on this link to download the video file.
  • Weatherspoon Plant Ash Basin B-Roll – July 2015
    Duke Energy’s Weatherspoon Plant is located in Lumberton, N.C. This b-roll package includes footage of the ash basins. Right-click on this link to download the video file.
  • Marshall Steam Station Ash Basin B-Roll – July 2015
    Duke Energy’s Marshall Steam Station is located in Terrell, N.C. This b-roll package includes footage of the ash basins. Right-click on this link to download the video file.
  • Allen Plant Ash Basin B-Roll - April 2015
    Duke Energy's Allen Plant is located in Belmont, N.C. This b-roll package includes footage of the ash basins.
  • W.S. Lee Steam Station B-Roll - March 2015
    Duke Energy’s retired W.S. Lee Steam Station is located in Belton, S.C. This b-roll package includes footage of the plant and the ash basins.
  • W.S. Lee Steam Station Ash Basin B-Roll - March 2015
    Duke Energy’s retired W.S. Lee Steam Station is located in Belton, S.C. This b-roll package includes ash basins.
  • Dan River Steam Station B-roll - Jan. 30, 2015
    Duke Energy’s Dan River Steam Station and Combined Cycle plants are located in Eden, N.C. This b-roll package includes footage of both plants and the two ash basins at the site a year after the Feb. 2, 2014 ash spill. Right-click on this link to download the video file.
  • Riverbend Plant B-roll - December 2014
    Duke Energy’s Riverbend Steam Station is located in Mount Holly, N.C. This b-roll package includes footage of the retired plant and the two ash basins at the site. Right-click on this link to download the video file.
  • Asheville Plant B-roll - December 2014
    Duke Energy’s Asheville Plant is located in Arden, N.C. This b-roll package includes footage of the plant and the ash basins at the site. Right-click on this link to download the video file.
  • H.F. Lee Plant Ash Basin B-Roll - July 2014
    Duke Energy’s retired H.F. Lee plant is located in Goldsboro, N.C. This b-roll package includes footage of the ash basins. Right-click on this link to download the video file.
  • Cape Fear Plant Ash Basin B-Roll - June 2014
    Duke Energy’s retired Cape Fear Plant is located in Moncure, N.C. This b-roll package includes ash basins. Right-click on this link to download the video file.
  • Sutton Plant Ash Basin B-Roll - June 2014
    Duke Energy’s retired Sutton Plant is located in Wilmington, N.C. This b-roll package includes ash basins. Right-click on this link to download the video file.
  • Buck Steam Station Ash Basin B-Roll - April 2014
    Duke Energy’s retired Buck Steam Station is located in Salisbury, N.C. This b-roll package includes ash basins. Right-click on this link to download the video file.
  • Asheville Airport Structural Fill Project B-roll - April 2014
    Duke Energy, Asheville Regional Airport and Charah are partnering to beneficially reuse millions of tons of coal ash produced from decades of generating power for the region in safe, fully lined engineered structural fill projects to create acres of flat, usable land at the airport taxiway. The video provides b-roll footage of the project. Right-click on this link to download the video file.
  • Comments from Lynn Good - June 2015
    Lynn Good answers questions about Duke Energy’s June 2015 safe basin closure update.
  • Comments from Lynn Good - Feb. 20, 2015
    Duke Energy CEO Lynn Good discusses coal ash management. Right-click on this link to download the video file.
  • Lynn Good: A Fact-based Approach to Coal Ash Management - April 2, 2014
    Duke Energy CEO Lynn Good spoke April 2, 2014 at the Hood Hargett luncheon in Charlotte, N.C. She shared that Duke Energy is committed to a fact-based and disciplined approach to addressing long-term ash basin management and ash basin closures.
  • Lynn Good: A Fact-based Approach to Coal Ash Management - April 2, 2014
    Duke Energy CEO Lynn Good spoke April 2, 2014 at the Hood Hargett luncheon in Charlotte, N.C. She shared ideas for opportunities for North Carolina and Duke Energy to lead on policies around ash and ash basins.
  • Duke Energy and Project Wild: A Natural Partnership - April 24, 2014
    Since 2001, Duke Energy has partnered with Project WILD, an environmental curriculum developed by the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, to help nearly 1,500 students a year experience North Carolina wildlife in its natural habitat. This outdoor classroom is located at a site hosting one of the largest heron rookeries on the east coast: on the property of Duke Energy's retired Buck Steam Station in Rowan County, N.C
  • Ashville Airport Coal Ash Structural Fill Project - April 1, 2014
    Duke Energy, Asheville Regional Airport and Charah are partnering to beneficially reuse 4 million tons of coal ash produced from decades of generating power for the region in safe, fully lined engineered structural fill projects to create acres of flat, usable land at the airport taxiway.
  • Duke Energy Removes Coal Ash From the Dan River - May 28, 2014
    Crews removed coal ash and sediment from a deposit located in the Dan River near Abreu-Grogan Park in Danville, Va., using a process called vacuum dredging. This process is designed to be minimally invasive and provide maximum performance without impacting the environment around it.
  • Coal Plant Demolition B-roll
    Duke Energy has been modernizing its power plants over the past decade, retiring nearly a dozen coal plants across the fleet. This b-roll package includes footage of coal plant demolitions and implosions at many of the company’s North Carolina coal plants. Right-click on this link to download the video file.
  • Cape Fear Plant Precipitator Implosion - Oct. 31, 2014
    Duke Energy’s Cape Fear Plant, located in Moncure, N.C., began operating in 1923. After serving the Carolinas region for many years, the plant was retired in 2012. In August 2014, the plant’s smokestacks were imploded. On Oct. 31, 2014, the precipitators were imploded.
  • Cape Fear Plant Boiler Implosion - Aug. 22, 2014
    On the morning of Aug. 22, 2014, Duke Energy’s Cape Fear Plant, located in Moncure, N.C., underwent a major transformation after serving the region well for more than 90 years. The company’s demolition specialist imploded the two 200-foot smokestacks at the site. The company plans to hold two additional implosion events at the site to complete the demolition of the plant structure.
  • H.F. Lee Plant Boiler Implosion - June 20, 2014
    After more than a year and a half of planning and preparation, the boilers of Duke Energy’s H.F. Lee Steam Plant in Goldsboro, N.C., were imploded by our demolition specialist on June 20, 2014. The first implosion at the site occurred on Dec. 20, 2013 and took down the two smokestacks.
  • H.F. Lee Plant Smokestack Implosion - Dec. 20, 2013
    After more than a year of planning and preparation, the smokestacks of Duke Energy’s H.F. Lee Steam Plant in Goldsboro, N.C., were imploded by our demolition specialist on Dec. 20, 2013. This is the first of two implosion events to occur at this site. The second event will demolish the boilers.
  • Weatherspoon Plant Implosion - Nov. 22, 2013
    As part of Duke Energy’s efforts to modernize its power plant fleet, the remaining portions of the W.H. Weatherspoon Power Plant in Lumberton, N.C., were imploded by our demolition specialist on Nov. 22, 2013. Many new natural gas plants across North Carolina have replaced the electricity originally generated by the Weatherspoon facility.
  • Engineered Capping System
    This diagram shows how coal ash can be safely stored with an engineered capping system.
  • Fully Lined Landfill Diagram
    This diagram shows how coal ash can be safely stored with a fully lined landfill.
  • W.S. Lee Excavation 1 - May 15, 2015
    Trucks move the first tons of coal ash at the W.S. Lee Steam Station in Belton, S.C.
  • W.S. Lee Excavation 2 - May 15, 2015
    Side dump trucks prepare to transport ash at the W.S. Lee Steam Station in Belton, S.C.
  • W.S. Lee Excavation 3 - May 15, 2015
    Waste Management is relocating about 1.4 million tons of ash from the inactive ash basin and an ash fill area at W.S. Lee Steam Station in Belton, S.C. to its landfill in Homer, Ga.
  • W.S. Lee Excavation 4 - May 15, 2015
    Side dump truck receiving coal ash at W.S. Lee Steam Station in Belton, S.C.
  • Riverbend Steam Station Ash Excavation - April 21, 2015
  • Riverbend Steam Station Ash Excavation - April 21, 2015
  • Riverbend Steam Station Ash Excavation - April 21, 2015
  • Lynn Good and Experts Survey Dan River Ash Basin - September 2014
  • Location of Pipe at Dan River Ash Basin - September 2014

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