It took a brutal storm, but Duke Energy is finally being compelled to clean up its toxic coal ash.

In the wake of Hurricane Florence, coal ash pits operated by Duke Energy spilled toxic sludge into the Neuse and Cape Fear rivers. Seven months later, on April 1, the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) ordered the company to excavate nine coal ash storage ponds at six of its power plants, and move the hazardous material to lined landfills. The announcement is a major win for North Carolina's environment and our health.

“We are excited and relieved that Duke Energy will finally have to clean up its coal ash mess,” said Environment North Carolina State Director Drew Ball. “Today Gov. Roy Cooper and DEQ Secretary Michael Regan have taken a historic step and are standing on the side of the environment, public health and science.”

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Photo: The collapsed coal ash impoundment that caused the Dan River coals ash spill in Eden, North Carolina. Credit: EPA via Wikimedia Commons.