Duke Energy, the company responsible for nine environmental violations, is seeking to withhold records from the court. The latest violation came Friday for a crack in a dam at a coal ash dump in Moncure, where regulators say Duke illegally pumped 61 million gallons of contaminated water into the Cape Fear River. Coal ash contains numerous chemicals that are highly toxic to people and aquatic life, including arsenic, lead and mercury. Groups like the Washington Environmental Council have lobbied for less coal consumption and fewer international exports of what is considered one of the “dirtiest” energy sources.
As a federal grand jury probes Duke Energy on their possible criminal activity, attorneys for the utility have asked a superior court judge to temporarily limit what information it must exchange with state regulators and environmental organizations in the lawsuit.
The grand jury is seeking a subpoena focused on the Dan River plant, which was the site of the massive coal ash and wastewater spill on February 2nd. The subpoena requests extensive information about all employees and contractors who worked at that plant. It also seeks records on design, construction, maintenance and inspection of the broken storm water pipe that led to the spill.
“Duke Energy strongly denies that it has in any way knowingly violated any law or committed any crime,” Jim Cooney, a Charlotte attorney representing the utility, stated in a request for a protective order filed in Wake County Superior Court on March 14.