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North Carolina Seeking to Revive Wastewater Suits Against Duke

North Carolina regulators are seeking to continue lawsuits filed last year against Duke Energy Corp. instead of having the largest U.S. utility owner pay fines for improperly pumping wastewater from two coal-fired power plants.

The state’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources has asked a judge to let the agency withdraw its support for a 2013 order that would force Duke to pay fines for pumping the wastewater from two coal-ash ponds. Lawsuits filed by regulators against Duke before proposing the order would continue if the judge rules in the agency’s favor, according to a statement by the regulator today.

“We will continue to hold the utility accountable for the cleanup of its coal-ash impoundments through the lawsuits, the reopening of the permits and our ongoing investigation,” John Skvarla, secretary for the regulator, said in the statement.

The attempt to continue the lawsuits comes as state regulators review all of Duke’s coal-ash facilities in North Carolina after a Feb. 2 spill into the Dan River. While making inspections for the review this month, regulators said they also found that Duke improperly released 61 million gallons (231 million liters) of wastewater from two coal-ash ponds into the Cape Fear River in pumping that began in September.

The state’s request couldn’t be immediately confirmed in court records.

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