Water sampling Dan River
Whatever you do, don’t touch the water!
Appalachian Water Watch

For years, environmentalists in North Carolina have been pressuring and suing Duke Energy in an attempt to get the company to clean up its coal-ash disposal sites. Duke dismissed the enviros and assured federal officials that its coal-ash ponds were safe.

Until — oops! — one of the ponds sprung an epic leak on Sunday, dumping some 80,000 tons of toxic coal ash into the Dan River.

Now, finally, Duke Energy seems to be starting to understand what the enviros have been yammering on about all these years.

“We’ll be taking a fresh look at all of our ash basins and how we handle that after we fix this pipe,” a company spokesman told WSOC TV Channel 9. Here’s more from the Charlotte Business Journal:

Duke Energy Corp. says the ash ponds it has at eight retired plant sites around North Carolina, including the leaking Dan River site in Eden, are outdated and the company plans to change the way ash is stored there.

Spokeswoman Lisa Hoffman says the company is looking at two principal alternatives.

One, called “cap and seal,” would involve draining the water from a site and placing 1.5-inch-thick tarp over the dried ash. The tarp would then be covered with a drainage layer, cover soil and topsoil and the site would be planted in grass. …

The second method would remove the coal ash from the ponds and bury it in a lined landfill. That is the alternative favored by environmental groups involved in court actions that allege Charlotte-based Duke’s ponds have leaked into rivers, lakes and reservoirs, and violated state groundwater laws and the federal Clean Water Act.

Yes, finally Duke gets it. All it took was an environmental disaster.