Coal Ash Spill Now Subject To Criminal Probe

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The Associated Press is now reporting that the coal ash spill into a North Carolina river is now the subject of a federal investigation.

The spill, which was discovered on February 2nd, resulted in tons of toxic materials seeping into the nearby Dan River. Somehow the coal ash had managed to escape a Duke Energy containment basin. The company waited nearly two days to inform the public.

Federal prosecutors have stated that a federal grand jury in Raleigh, N.C. is currently investigating the case.

In the aftermath of the coal ash spill both North Carolina regulators and Duke Energy have been served subpoenas by the U.S. attorneys office.

The L.A. Times was able to view the contents of the subpoena on Thursday and have said that the document includes thirteen separate requests for the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to hand over documents related to the spill.
The Times said this includes all emails, memos and other recorded information about, "discharges or seepages from any coal ash pond".

The subpoena also requested the state agency’s records of its involvement with Duke Energy going as far back as 2010.

Duke Energy received a subpoena on Monday as well according to spokesperson Thomas C. Williams. Williams declined to comment on the contents of the subpoena, saying that the information was confidential.

Both Duke Energy and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources have stated that the organizations fully intend to comply with the wishes of investigators and have offered their full cooperation.

As of right now, the investigation is criminal in nature, with the spill said to be the result of a felony offense. The exact offense or target of the criminal investigation is not known at this time.

It has been revealed that water contamination may be older than the most recent spill. In fact the Waterkeeper Alliance has attempted to sue Duke Energy in the past over suspected contamination. Peter Harrison, a lawyer who has represented the Waterkeeper Alliance, says that it’s very likely the company has been contaminating water in the surrounding area for years.

"The day of reckoning has come," Harrison says. "It's high time this activity by the state is examined through a criminal lens, because this is criminal behavior."

The fact that this is one of four known major toxic spills in the region within a matter of weeks is also troubling.

Image via Youtube

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