Judge approves moving coal ash lawsuits forward

Jun. 10, 2014 @ 10:25 PM

RALEIGH — A federal judge says a lawsuit accusing Duke Energy coal ash pits of polluting a lake near Wilmington can move forward.

The Southern Environmental Law Center filed a lawsuit last year on behalf of environmental groups, saying the toxic waste was polluting Sutton Lake and violating the federal Clean Water Act.

Duke Energy sought to dismiss the case, saying the groups didn't have a role because a state environmental agency already took enforcement action.

Federal Judge Louise Flanagan said Monday the state's enforcement action dealt with groundwater violations, but Sutton Lake is a public waterway and subject to the provisions of the federal law.

The ruling allows environmental groups to request internal Duke Energy documents.

Duke spokeswoman Erin Culbertson said the company will vigorously defend the litigation.