American power generation company Duke Energy Corp (NYSE:DUK) agreed to pay the Virginia Department of Environment (DEQ) $2.5 million for the coal ash spill of 2014.
Duke is the largest power generation company in the United States. The company will carry out $2.25 million environment projects to benefit localities affected by the spill. The other $250,000 will be given to a DEQ for environmental emergencies.
In 2014, a pipe break at a defunct Duke Coal plant caused the third worst coal ash spill in the U.S. history. The event led to North Carolina’s Senate to ask Duke to close 33 coal ash ponds in the state within 15 years.
The DEQ Director, David Paylor, said that the settlement ensures that Duke is held fully accountable for the spill. He also noted that one of DEQ goals’ has been to make sure that the local communities and the Commonwealth are fully compensated.
Bill Hayden, a DEQ official said that the fine was based on many factorslike environmental harm, culpability and the ability of Duke to pay.
However, not everyone was happy with the result. Tiffany Haworth, an executive director of the Dan River Basin, commented that the compensation was lower than expected given that the coal ash will remain in the water system forever.
There has been no immediate environmental problem by according to Haworth it is early to judge, and the long term effects are yet to be seen.DEQ will monitor the water quality, sediment and fish in the river for another two to four years.
The company had earlier stated that it has set aside $100 million in anticipation of the settlement.
According to DEQ, a public comment period on the agreement will be open through May 20, 2015. After that the State Water Control Board must give its final approval for the agreement to take effect.