Federal authorities have launched a criminal investigation into a massive coal ash spill into a North Carolina river, demanding that Duke Energy and state regulators hand over reams of documents related to the accident that left a waterway polluted with tons of toxic sludge.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Raleigh, N.C., issued grand jury subpoenas seeking records from Duke and the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources. The subpoenas seek e-mails, memos and reports related to the Feb. 2 spill into the Dan River and the state’s oversight of the company’s 30 other coal ash dumps.
The Associated Press obtained a copy Thursday of the subpoena issued to the state through a public records request.
“An official criminal investigation of a suspected felony is being conducted by an agency of the United States and a federal grand jury,” said a cover letter accompanying the subpoena, which was dated Monday and signed by a criminal prosecutor.
The exact crime and precisely who is being targeted for potential prosecution is not spelled out in the document.
The spill at a Duke Energy plant in Eden spewed enough toxic sludge to fill 73 Olympic-sized pools, turning the river water a milky gray for miles. It was the third-largest U.S. coal ash spill.
State health officials have advised that people not eat fish from the river and to avoid contact with the water. Coal ash contains arsenic, lead, mercury and a host of other chemicals that are highly toxic to humans and aquatic life.
— Associated Press
●Lehman Brothers Holdings asked a judge to approve a $767 million settlement with Freddie Mac to pay off a $1.2 billion bankruptcy claim, one of the biggest remaining against the defunct bank. The deal will make hundreds of millions of dollars available for “prompt distribution” to creditors after being held in reserve as a result of the dispute, Lehman said in a court filing Wednesday.
●PepsiCo said Thursday it has concluded after an “exhaustive” review involving “bankers and consultants” that it will hang on to its struggling North American drinks unit, with hopes that the introduction of naturally sweetened, lower-calorie sodas will help revive sales. The company has been under pressure to spin off the business and focus on its stronger Frito-Lay snack unit. The calls for a split come as PepsiCo’s drinks, which include Mountain Dew, Tropicana and Aquafina, have lost ground to bigger rival Coca-Cola.
●Four Democratic senators — Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), Barbara A. Mikulski (Md.), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.) and Mazie Hirono (Hawaii) — introduced legislation that would require cellphones to come with a kill switch that allows owners to wipe them of personal information and renders them unusable if stolen. Apple implemented a kill-switch-like feature on its iPhones last year. Samsung has said it is working on a similar feature.
●Avon Products said it may cost as much as $132 million to settle a U.S. bribery investigation into the beauty products company’s efforts to develop new markets overseas. The Securities and Exchange Commission and the Justice Department began an investigation in 2011, following an internal probe by Avon that started in 2008 into allegations of improper payments in China.
●Apple added Flextronics International as an assembler of Mac computers last year as chief executive Tim Cook pushes forward with plans to have more devices made in the U.S. Flextronics assembled Macs in Austin, Apple said in its annual supplier report. Foxconn Technology remains the largest manufacturer of Apple products, with seven assembly locations in China and Brazil.
— From staff reports, news services
●9:15 a.m.: Industrial production data for January.
●Earnings: Campbell Soup, Hyatt Hotels.