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Duke Energy wants citizens group out of ash action

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Protesters rally outside the Executive Mansion to demand stricter regulations on Duke Energy. (Michael Barnard, WNCN) Protesters rally outside the Executive Mansion to demand stricter regulations on Duke Energy. (Michael Barnard, WNCN)
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. -

Duke Energy is pushing to prevent citizens groups from taking part in enforcement action against them.

Last year, citizens groups filed a complaint against Duke Energy saying their coal ash ponds are polluting ground water. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources then filed a complaint of its own against Duke. At the time, the citizens groups were still involved.

But on Monday, Duke filed a motion to remove the citizens groups from the case.

The company said the groups have an "independent right" to file claims and seek relief. But they are "prohibited from expanding this enforcement action beyond the claims asserted and relief sought by" the state environmental agency.

The power company also denied allegations in the complaint.

Duke also recently asked a judge to shield its records from North Carolina regulators and environmental groups while a federal criminal investigation is underway. Twenty-three Duke Energy employees, and 18 current and former state employees have been subpoenaed.

Federal investigators are looking at whether employees may have received any incentives to turn a blind eye regarding regulating the ash ponds.

In emails released by the state earlier this week, WNCN Investigates also found that Duke Energy, back in 2011, asked DENR how it can keep certain documents from of the public eye.

Duke requested that its Emergency Action Plans and inundation maps be exempt from public records laws.

A DENR employee wrote, "This information could be used by terrorists to determine where they might do the most damage."

Duke Energy did not immediately respond to why they asked for this information to be kept secret.

Copyright 2014 WNCN. All rights reserved.

Jonathan Rodriguez

Jonathan Rodriguez is an investigative reporter and member of the WNCN Investigates team. His storytelling specialty is connecting the dots to get to the truth, with a goal of delivering results for our community. If you have something you’d like WNCN to investigate, contact Jonathan.

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