N.C. Sen. Natasha Marcus is urging state officials to require that Duke Energy remove all coal ash from pits at the Marshall Steam Station on Lake Norman and at Plant Allen on Lake Wylie.

In a March 18 letter to Michael Reagan, secretary of the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality, Marcus also suggests that Duke should be prevented from making customers pay for removal through higher rates.

Duke says that digging up the coal ash at Marshall would cost more than $1 billion, and that transporting the ash to another location would take 32 years.

While Duke has received clearance from the N.C. Utilities Commission to pass coal-ash cleanup costs to its customers through rate increases, the company has said it would prefer the cheaper option of keeping the ash where it is, draining the basin of all water and capping the stored material with a waterproof cover.

That’s not enough, Marcus insists in her letter.

“The citizens of North Carolina have spoken loud and clear, to me and to you at your public input sessions and via comments on your website,” writes Marcus, whose district includes Huntersville, Cornelius and Davidson. “We call on DEQ to protect the water and human health by requiring removal of all coal ash ponds to lined pits and/or to be used in concrete or cement.”

DEQ has said it plans to complete a review of Duke’s coal-ash options by April 1 and that Duke will be required to submit a plan for how to handle its stored ash in August.

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