Groups To Sue Duke Energy Over Toxic Waste Safety Info

Sep 20, 2017

UPDATE: In a statement late Friday, Duke Vice President George Hamrick said, Duke “determined that it is appropriate to post additional information related to emergency action plans for coal ash facilities….”

A federal rule from 2015 requires electric utilities to publish information on the safe disposal of coal ash. Hamrick says Duke last updated its emergency action plan before that rule went into effect, but, “after revisiting the issue… we agree it is appropriate to post additional information and make it available to the public.” 

Hamrick says the information will be available online “in the coming weeks.”

A group of Indiana environmental organizations are threatening to sue Duke Energy, one of the country’s largest electric utilities, over information on toxic waste management.

Earthjustice, the Hoosier Environmental Council, and two other environmental groups want Duke to release contact information for emergency responders and maps that detail where coal ash would spill in the event containment ponds break. Coal ash is the toxic residue left over from burning coal.

Lisa Evans, a senior attorney for Earthjustice, says every other utility in the country provides that required information in its emergency action plans.

“If you lived next to a toxic dump impounding millions of tons of toxic material, you’d want this information to be publically available,” Evans says.

In an emailed response, Duke Energy spokesperson Erin Culbert says, “We provide full versions of these plans to local emergency planners…” and that this is “…the latest attempt to use fear and the courts to upend public policy.”

Earthjustice’s Lisa Evans says she hopes the move creates “urgency” for the utility and says Duke can avoid a lawsuit by immediately publishing the information.