NORTH CAROLINA -- A decision by Virginia lawmakers could have major ramifications in North Carolina.

  • On Thursday, Virginia legislators decided its utility company is responsible for removing its coal ash from around major waterways
  • Duke Energy says it will review the decision in Virginia
  • Duke Energy officials acknowledge that NC is dealing with more than four times the amount of material in basins and unlined facilities compared to Virginia

State regulators are still deciding how to deal with a half-dozen coal ash sites in the Tar Heel State.

The ongoing struggle between regulators, Duke Energy, and people who have to live near coal ash in North Carolina is who's cleaning it up, how much will be cleaned up, and who's going to pay for it.

On Thursday morning in Virginia, the legislature and governor decided its utility, Dominion Energy, is responsible for removing all 27 million cubic yards of coal ash around major waterways.

Right now, the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality is holding public input meetings throughout the state to ask people what should be done with coal ash in six North Carolina communities near six coal ash facilities.

There's several options, but groups like the "Southern Environmental Law Center" wants Duke Energy to be on the hook for cleaning up every bit of coal ash caused by its power and steam stations.

"Duke Energy should take responsibility for the pollution and the contamination that it's been storing by our important waterways for decades. And they should excavate all the coal ash contamination and remove it and place it in safe, dry storage," said Mary Maclean Asbill, senior attorney, Southern Environmental Law Center. 

There are several options on the table to handle the coal ash that the Department of Environmental Quality is deciding between.

There's closure-by-removal, which the Southern Environmental Law Center is asking for.

Duke Energy is advocating for a lot what's called the "Capping Method." Duke Energy would drain out standing water in the basin, get all the ash in one place, then cover it with a waterproof barrier, gravel, and several other protective layers, but the ash itself would still be underneath.

That's a method Virginia lawmakers, in their decision on Thursday morning, specifically said they wanted to avoid.

Duke Energy sent us a statement Thursday afternoon, saying that it will review the decision in Virginia, but they say they are dealing with more than four times the amount of material in basins and unlined facilities, compared to Virginia.

The series of public input meetings continues on Thursday night in Roxboro. It comes back to the Charlotte area on Tuesday, in Belmont, at Stuart Cramer High School. That will be the last public input session.

On Wednesday, Duke Energy and a handful of insurance companies won a stay of their multi-million dollar liability lawsuit.

The two sides will enter good faith negotiations to reach a settlement.