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Environmental groups filed three lawsuits against Duke Energy Wednesday over coal ash pollution.

This is not a legal action about the big spill on the Dan River, but rather over leaky coal ash dumps.

The Southern Environmental Law Center filed three federal lawsuits on behalf of several Riverkeepers and the Waterkeepers Alliance.

These lawsuits maintain Duke is violating the Clean Water Act at three plants-- one of them in our area: the Buck Station on the Yadkin River near Salisbury.

Earlier this year the NBC Charlotte I-Team reported how water tests conducted by the Waterkeepers Alliance detected trace amounts of a cancer-causing chemical called hexavalent chromium in drinking water wells located just behind the Buck plant.

Frank Holleman, attorney for the Waterkeepers Alliance, said, "Duke is operating defective, leaky and polluting coal ash facilities."

He says that a new state law passed this year by North Carolina's legislature does nothing to clean up coal ash at plants like Buck.

That's why he says the Waterkeepers Alliance is suing to force Duke to dig up the coal ash and move it away from the water table.

A Duke spokeswoman emailed me a statement Wednesday afternoon saying that Duke would like to retest neighbors' well water in conjunction with state officials.

Erin Culbert of Duke Energy said in the statement, "Duke Energy continues to be committed to closing its North Carolina ash basins in a way that's fact-based and environmentally sound."

Wednesday's lawsuits also target Duke's Lee and Cape Fear plants. At Cape Fear, the earthen dam retaining coal ash is rated in "poor" condition by state regulators.

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