Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Duke Energy’s work to line Sutton Plant’s coal ash basin is underway

Truck being inspected and weighed before departing Sutton for Brickhaven Mine. Photo courtesy of Duke Energy.
Truck being inspected and weighed before departing Sutton for Brickhaven Mine in November 2015. (Photo courtesy of Duke Energy.)

WILMINGTON — Duke Energy imploded the last boiler at Wilmington’s Sutton Plant this past Wednesday. But more work continues to safely excavate and close the plant’s coal ash basin in northwest Wilmington.

VIDEO: Watch the last of Wilmington’s Sutton Plant boilers go out with a boom

So far, 1 million tons of coal ash has been removed from Sutton Pant basins. The company began removing coal ash from the Sutton Plant basin in November 2015. The coal ash is being transported by rail to a fully lined structural fill at Brickhaven Mine in Chatham County.

Duke Energy is set to remove 2 million of the 7 million tons of coal ash at Sutton Plant. The remaining coal ash will be stored in a fully lined landfill on Sutton Plant property. Construction of the landfill is now underway with the necessary permits and approvals from the state.

Closing ash basins at the site is part of Duke Energy’s overall effort to retire coal ash operations at the Sutton Plant. The coal ash removal began after the Duke Energy reached a $20 million settlement with the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality that held the required the accelerated cleanup of groundwater at four contamination sites—including the Sutton plant near Wilmington.

Sutton Plant began commercial service in 1954. The coal units were retired in 2013 after a new natural gas-fired plant came into service at the site. The new natural gas units generate electricity more efficiently and with lower emissions than the coal plant did during its operation.

As part of Duke Energy’s work to decommission the coal fired plant’s, crews removed the plant’s two iconic red-and-white striped smokestacks in March 2016, using a ring-line platform that allowed the stacks to be removed from the top down. The company also imploded several boilers at the plant, the most recent taking place Wednesday. 

The implosion in Wilmington removed the last of Duke Energy’s coal plants in Eastern North Carolina. It’s the seventh coal plant demolished in the Carolinas in the last five years. For more information about ash basin closure at the Sutton Plant, visit

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