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RALEIGH, N.C. -- Duke Energy says that removing all of the company's coal ash away from North Carolina's rivers and lakes would take decades and cost up to $10 billion, with the state's electricity customers likely footing nearly all the bill.

Duke's North Carolina president Paul Newton told state lawmakers Tuesday the company needs flexibility to consider more cost-efficient options that include leaving much of its 100 million tons of toxic ash in place after being covered with giant tarps and soil. State officials say all 33 of Duke's unlined dumps are contaminating groundwater.

Environmental groups are calling for new legislation requiring Duke to move its coal ash to lined landfills away from waterways following the massive Feb. 2 spill in Eden that coated 70 miles of the Dan River in gray sludge.

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Gov. McCrory Proposes New Coal Ash Plan After Spill

Duke Energy Wants Citizens Groups Out Of Lawsuit

Duke Energy Seeks To Keep Records From Regulators

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