Sutton Steam Electric Plant has 26 groundwater monitoring wells, 18 of which have been polluted above federal advisory levels based on samples collected between March 09, 2010 and October 02, 2014. Groundwater at this site contains unsafe levels of manganese, arsenic, selenium, boron, lead and sulfate.Site description
Duke Energy's Sutton Steam Electric Plant began operating in 1954 near Wilmington, North Carolina and at its peak had an operating capacity of 575 megawatts (MW). Duke Energy retired the plant's three coal-fired units in November 2013, but left three small combustion turbines in operation. At that time, a new gas-fired 625-MW combined cycle unit was brought online. Studies have found selenium contamination and fish toxicity in Lake Sutton, and groundwater contamination became evident after voluntary monitoring started in 2006. In 2013, groundwater contamination from the site threatened residential drinking water wells in Flemington, North Carolina. Duke Energy agreed to pay for most of the cost of running public drinking water lines out to Flemington.
Following the coal ash containment issues at Duke Energy's Dan River Steam Station in February 2014, the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (NCDENR) has reexamined existing permits and coal ash ponds at all fourteen of Duke Energy's power plants in North Carolina. Subsequently, the NCDENR cited five power plants, including the Sutton Steam Electric Plant, for operating without stormwater permits.
Sutton Steam Electric Plant is among the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's list of potential damage cases, indicating that it has potentially polluted groundwater or surface water at levels which threaten human health and the environment. For more information regarding the Sutton Plant, see EIP's 2010 report, Out of Control and visit SoutheastCoalAsh.org.