Court Ruling Helps Clarify Timing of CCR Rule Violations

Recently, a North Carolina court ruled that CCR closure plans cannot be found in violation of the CCR rule until the plan is implemented. As the planning process continues, many stakeholders are engaged in identifying the most environmentally friendly and cost-effective closure plans. When it comes to groundwater control, interstitial water removal, and treatment of water produced during closure activities Griffin can help, from planning and design through closure.

“In an important court ruling, the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina last week dismissed a lawsuit brought by the Roanoke River Basin Association against Duke Energy’s Mayo Steam Electric Plant.  The environmental groups claimed that the facility’s preliminary CCR closure plan for the site’s CCR impoundment, which calls for closure in place, violated RCRA and the CCR rule.  The citizen suit alleged that an impoundment with CCR in contact with groundwater cannot close in place, and that therefore a closure plan that called for this option violated the CCR rule.
This was the first citizen suit brought under the 2015 CCR Rule.  The Court dismissed the case, holding that it is premature to determine whether the preliminary closure plan that is yet to be implemented is legal.  The court held that the environmental plaintiffs lacked standing (they did not show injury) and that the issues raised in their claim were not ripe for review, emphasizing again that the closure plan was preliminary and that Duke could always amend the plan before actually implementing it.  The court found that whether a closure plan meets the standards of the CCR rule, and whether a plaintiff is able to demonstrate injury in order to challenge the closure plan, can only be determined after the plan is implemented.  In challenging the legitimacy of Duke’s closure plan before it was even implemented, the court found that the environmental groups had essentially ‘jumped the gun.'”