Duke Energy notified the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (NCDENR) and other state and local officials that a gap has developed on the inside embankment of one of the Cape Fear ash basins.
The basin dam remains safe and structurally sound, Duke reported.
A small depression was observed two weeks ago on the embankment of the basin, which was constructed in 1985. Site personnel have been monitoring it, and it has not changed in size or condition since it was discovered.
Company officials observed on Thursday, March 20, however, that the depression had developed into a narrow gap about 35 feet long and three to four inches wide.
Company engineers and engineering consultants responded to the site immediately to make repairs. No ash basin discharge has occurred, and out of an abundance of caution, the company is taking steps to prevent any potential for discharge.
NCDENR issued a Notice of Violation today related to Duke Energy's actions to lower basin levels to perform maintenance work on the 1985 and 1978 ash basins.
The company had identified through routine inspections that maintenance was needed on the risers, the vertical pipes that transfer basin water to the permitted discharge system.
The water was being pumped to the existing, permitted outfalls and was being monitored according to the plant permit. Duke Energy notified the agency prior to beginning work and will respond to the agency within the 30 days as requested.
The Cape Fear Plant retired in 2012, and no ash has been produced since that time.