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Water pollution case settlement includes $1 million fund

Environmentalists and governments, including here in Georgia, appear to agree on the importance of enforcing clean water laws, including the federal Clean Water Act. In one locality, Duke Energy has agreed to settle a federal lawsuit by paying $1 million in compensation for water pollution that it caused. The company owned a coal-fired nuclear power plant that discharged toxic heavy metals and pollutants into a nearby lake.

Georgia and all states have their own state anti-pollution laws that work in conjunction with the Clean Water Act. State and federal agencies generally cooperate in at least coordinating their efforts. The lawsuit against Duke, which was filed in 2013 by several environmental organizations, including the Sierra Club, alleged violations of the Clean Water Act.

The $1 million settlement funds agreed to by Duke will go directly into an account that will be devoted to improving water quality and for conservation of land along the Lower Cape Fear River. Although the energy company was already ordered by the state to remove the coal ash and deposit it in lined landfills, the order did not cover the nearby Lake Sutton. This lawsuit and the settlement deal with the issue of the lake. The Clean Water Act is the primary federal law focused on preventing and stopping water pollution.

The law is administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which is the main federal agency for preventing and stopping water pollution and improving waste water treatment methods. The EPA and state agencies in Georgia cooperate in their efforts so that duplication and loss of resources can be minimized. Duke Energy made a statement that it is addressing the issue of coal ash basins and will be eliminating the coal ash throughout the area, which will help to keep costs down in the long run. It indicated that its efforts will also have a lasting effect on protecting the environment.

Source: wfae.org, "Duke Settles Suit Over Water Quality Near Sutton Plant", David Boraks, Nov. 23, 2016

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