Chatham County has spent nearly $6 million of the coal ash settlement funds it received from Duke Energy as part of the county’s deal negotiated with the energy company for use of the spent …
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Chatham County has spent nearly $6 million of the coal ash settlement funds it received from Duke Energy as part of the county’s deal negotiated with the energy company for use of the spent mine at Brickhaven in Moncure to store coal ash from other parts of the state.
The county has received approximately $9.4 million from Duke and expects to receive one more check from the company in June, though the amount is not yet known, according to Chatham County interim County Manager Dan LaMontagne.
“The volume has slowed down if not stopped at this point,” LaMontagne said at a Chatham County Board of Commissioners meeting on Dec. 17. “They have been cutting back on staff and have scaled down quite a bit.”
Duke Energy has been using trains to bring coal ash from the Sutton Plant in Wilmington and the Riverbend Plant in Mt. Holly near Charlotte.
According to LaMontagne, all of the coal ash from the Sutton plant has made its way to Moncure, and the Riverbend portion was near complete.
“At the current time, they do not expect to be bringing ash from other facilities,” LaMontagne said. “However, there is no guarantee they will not bring more.”
Chatham County has spent approximately $180,000 on environmental testing around the Brickhaven site, which includes ash testing, air quality testing, and ground water testing.
LaMontagne believed the annual spending on testing will begin to be reduced as Duke Energy begins capping the coal ash reservoir in Moncure.
LaMontagne noted that ash and air testing will likely end once the capping is complete, but the county will continue to perform groundwater testing.
“It would be prudent to hang on to some of this money for the purpose that it was intended,” LaMontagne said. “To be able to protect the citizens and keep an eye on Duke.”
Of the $6 million spent, about $2.2 million was used to purchase new fire engines for the Moncure stations, renovate Moncure Fire Station 14, and to retire debt from another Moncure Fire Station. Another $300,000 was spent on the Sprott Youth Center.
LaMontagne noted that those payments were approved as soon as the funds became available as part of the negotiations for the coal ash settlement.
Another $3.5 million has been allocated for the sewer allocation for the Moncure megasite, but those funds have not yet been spent.
In addition, approximately $18,000 was spent on legal fees and another $15,000 on the Moncure-Haywood Food Truck festival.
Following LaMontagne’s briefing to the board on the coal ash funds, commissioners requested another tour of the facility to see the current state of the Brickhaven site. A date and time for the tour has not been announced.