Records show Duke Energy warned about pipe that caused coal ash spill

A 28-year-old engineering report was among documents subpoenaed last week from the N.C. Utilities Commission by the U.S. Attorney in Raleigh as part of an ongoing federal grand jury investigation into the spill.
By MICHAEL BIESECKER Published: June 20, 2014

Energy update

Duke Energy was warned about

pipe before huge coal ash spill

— Records subpoenaed by federal prosecutors show engineers working for Duke Energy warned the firm nearly 30 years before a massive coal ash spill that a storm water pipe running under an ash dump was made of corrugated metal and needed to be monitored for leaks.

That pipe at a North Carolina dump collapsed in February, triggering a spill that coated 70 miles of the Dan River in toxic gray sludge. Following the disaster, Duke officials said the company didn’t know that an underground section of the pipe was made out of metal, believing instead that it had been fully constructed of more-durable reinforced concrete. Duke spokesman Dave Scanzoni declined to comment Thursday about the documents or whether the company implemented the monitoring recommended by its engineers.

The 28-year-old engineering report was among documents subpoenaed last week from the N.C. Utilities Commission by the U.S. Attorney in Raleigh as part of an ongoing grand jury investigation into the spill. The Associated Press filed a public records request with the state agency, which was responsible for regulating Duke’s 33 coal ash pits in North Carolina up until 2010.