The Southern Environment Law Centre sent a notice of intent to sue subsidiary Duke Energy Progress on Wednesday, giving the company 60 days to remedy its alleged pollution of Sutton Lake.
The SELC filed the notice, required under the Clean Water Act, on behalf of Cape Fear River Watch, the Waterkeeper Alliance and the Sierra Club.
Duke operates the Sutton facility, a coal-fired power plant being converted to natural gas on the Cape Fear River near Wilmington. The facility includes two unlined coal ash lagoons alongside Sutton Lake.
The groups blame Duke’s ash ponds for contaminating the state-managed fishing lake and surrounding groundwater.
“We’re taking action to stop the harmful pollution of one of the area’s most popular fishing lakes,” Southern Environmental Law Center senior attorney Frank Holleman said in a statement.
“For years, Progress has dumped untreated pollution from its coal ash lagoons into Sutton Lake. Progress can’t treat this public fishing lake as its private wastewater treatment pond – too many people depend on this valuable public resource.”
This is not the first notice the law centre has filed against Duke Energy, with two others filed this year over ash at Duke Energy’s Riverbend plant near Charlotte and Skyland plant near Asheville.
The North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources later filed lawsuits claiming pollution from ash at both plants.
Last week, SELC filed a separate suit in federal court over Riverbend’s ash.
In an emailed statement to Star News Online, officials with Duke Energy said they were reviewing the notice, but records indicated the utility was in compliance with state water quality standards and discharge limits.
"Duke Energy believes we have diligently complied with all our plants' water discharge permits, including Sutton Plant's," Duke Energy spokeswoman Lisa Hoffmann said.
"We monitor game fish tissue concentrations in Sutton Lake, and levels are consistently below NC Department of Health and Human Services consumption advisory levels for mercury and selenium."