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Duke receives discharge permits

The North Carolina Division of Water Quality issued water-discharge permits Tuesday to three Duke Energy Corp. coal-fired power plants and their four associated coal ash ponds along the Catawba River.

The Final National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits involve Marshall Steam Station on Lake Norman, Riverbend Steam Station on Mountain Island Lake and Allen Steam Station on Lake Wylie.

David Merryman, the Catawba’s riverkeeper, called the awarding of the permits “outrageous.”

“Despite public input and outcry, DWQ still plans to allow the unlimited release of arsenic, mercury and selenium into our drinking water supply,” Merryman said. “We’ve already learned that our fish are contaminated with PCBs. You can’t keep pumping toxic heavy metals into the river, too.

“The costs of removing these poisons should not be passed along to the water drinkers of Charlotte-Mecklenburg, Gastonia, east Lincoln County, Mount Holly, Rock Hill and Mooresville.”

Merryman did point out, though, that the final permits added requirements suggested from a public hearing, such as weekly coal ash pond dam structural integrity inspections; a one-time fish tissue monitoring for arsenic, mercury and selenium; a re-evaluation of thermal discharge impacts to the biological community; semiannual in-stream monitoring for heavy metals and dissolved solids; and a coal ash pond closure plan for Riverbend Steam Station on Mountain Island Lake, Mecklenburg County’s primary source of drinking water.

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