Protecting People and the Environment

icon leaf


Duke Energy and independent experts have conducted extensive environmental studies of groundwater, surface water, aquatic health, fish populations and air quality to ensure the company complies with strict permits and regulations to protect public health and the environment. We take all appropriate steps to ensure drinking water, lakes and rivers are rigorously protected from our operations, and our work to close ash basins and improve groundwater will keep water supplies protected.

Studies confirm the public and environment are well protected

Scientific monitoring has been underway for decades – nearly 60 years at some sites – allowing Duke Energy, state and federal regulatory agencies and other stakeholders to see long-term trends.

Scientific studies overseen by state regulators and reviewed by independent experts confirm ash basins are not affecting neighbors' drinking water wells. Duke Energy has been extremely proactive in assessing risks and addressing potential issues, including providing alternate water supplies for neighbors.

What is coal ash?

For decades, reliable, affordable electricity was made possible by coal. 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 coal ash. For decades, utilities across the nation have stored that ash in basins. Duke Energy is permanently closing all ash basins across our system and we've made significant progress, completing closure at several sites.

Is it hazardous?

Coal ash is regulated as a nonhazardous substance by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Coal ash contains substances found in soils and rocks at similar concentrations, with less than 1% trace elements such as metals. And just like rocks and soils, the mere presence of these elements does not equate to toxicity – it is exposure and dose that matters. EPA and other regulatory agencies have conducted studies to understand how people living near ash facilities may be exposed, which underpins the regulations Duke Energy must comply with and the management practices we use to protect public health.

Science instead of speculation – examining coal ash and health concerns

EPRI Fact Sheet on Coal Ash and Human Health
Coal Ash: The Truth About Toxicity

@ Sign up for email