CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Friday, Duke Energy filed a formal appeal of an order from the State Department of Environmental Quality to completely excavate coal ash from all of its plants in North Carolina.

Two of those plants are in the Charlotte area. The Marshall Steam Station and the Allen Station are both along the Catawba River near Lakes Norman and Wylie.

Duke spokesperson Paige Sheehan said capping existing ponds would be just as safe and far less expensive than if the company has to comply with the state order to move it all.

She said the cost to cap the basins would be $5.6 billion, but moving the ash would nearly double the cost.

“If we have to move all of the coal ash that we think the DEQ is talking about in this recent decision, you could add about $5 billion to the price tag."

But the Catawba Riverkeeper Brandon Jones has argued that leaving the ash in the ground does not solve the threat of pollution.

"If we don’t deal with this now and just put a tarp over it, it will continue to be a problem forever," Jones said.

Duke’s Sheehan disagrees saying, “science says you can cap or excavate and get the exact same outcome.”

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