State officials today authorized Duke Energy to operate a double-lined, industrial landfill that will be used to store coal ash and other wastes at the utility’s Dan River Steam Station in Rockingham County.

The state Division of Waste Management issued the permit for the landfill, which is being constructed on 23 acres on the Dan River facility’s property away from surface water. The Division of Waste Management is part of the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality.

“Safely cleaning up coal ash statewide is a top priority for the Cooper administration,” said Michael Regan, secretary of the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality. “There’s still much work to be done, but today’s action moves North Carolina closer to storing and disposing of all coal ash in a manner that protects our citizens’ health and the environment.”

The permit issued Tuesday requires Duke Energy to build the landfill with a system for collecting leachate. The permit requires routine monitoring to ensure the landfill is being properly maintained and operated. The landfill will ultimately include three cells with a total disposal capacity of about 2.1 million cubic yards of waste. Tuesday’s approval to operate covers the first, 5.2-acre cell. The landfill will be used to dispose of coal ash from the facility’s on-site impoundment, safely removing it from the river’s edge. It can also be used for other types of waste generated at the Dan River facility. Duke Energy built the first cell of the landfill earlier this year after receiving a state permit to construct the landfill.

Duke Energy submitted its new permit application on Aug. 31, 2015. The state environmental agency determined that the application satisfied the requirements of North Carolina law. The public was given an opportunity to comment on the permit during a comment period and a March 2016 public hearing.

The Dan River facility is one of four facilities in North Carolina with coal ash impoundments classified by state law as high-risk, where ash from the impoundment is required to be excavated and the impoundment closed by Dec. 31, 2019. Duke Energy previously moved coal ash from the facility in Eden to a lined landfill in Virginia.

The Division of Waste Management is expected to issue a separate decision on the coal ash industrial landfill at the Sutton plant in July.

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