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The N.C. Department of Environmental Quality has ordered that Duke relocate coal ash at its Marshall Steam Station on Lake Norman to a properly lined basin, but stopped short of saying any or all the ash must be removed from the site altogether.

Duke Energy on Thursday announced that it will appeal a state order that the company excavate all coal ash stored at six of its North Carolina facilities, including the Marshall Steam Station on Lake Norman.

The N.C. Department of Environmental Control issued its order April 1 after a review of options for dealing with ash stored in nine unlined basins at the half-dozen Duke plants.

“The order by the NCDEQ to excavate the final nine ash basins would impose a financial burden on our customers and the economy of the Carolinas through the most expensive and disruptive closure option possible, despite that these basins are rated ‘low risk’ by NCDEQ,” Duke said in a statement. “The process by which NCDEQ arrived at its decision lacked full consideration of the science and engineering, and we will provide those details when we file an appeal before the North Carolina Office of Administrative Hearings in the near future.”

While DEQ specified that the ash, once removed from unlined sites at Marshall and elsewhere, must be transferred to a properly lined site to prevent the leaching of potentially dangerous carcinogens into the ground and water supplies, the agency doesn’t address where those alternate storage sites must be.

In and around the Lake Norman area, public and political sentiment has supported moving the ash stores away from water sources entirely. And Duke, in arguing against complete excavation, has suggested it would cost more than $1 billion and take more than three decades to remove Marshall’s ash and transport it to another site.

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