- Associated Press - Friday, February 28, 2014

The Carolinas News Editor is Tim Rogers. The breaking news staffer is Skip Foreman. For technical support, please call the AP’s Services and Technology Department in Raleigh at 919-881-9974.

COAL ASH SPILL-NORTH CAROLINA

MONCKS CORNER, S.C. - When North Carolina Environmental Secretary John Skvarla was asked why regulators haven’t pressed Duke Energy to clean up and move leaky coal-ash dumps away from state waterways, he responded: It could be too risky. He said it might be better to keep the toxic waste in place than scooping it up and hauling it to lined landfills. Gov. Pat McCrory later echoed that sentiment. When asked for a real-world example or scientific study suggesting that moving toxic waste away from rivers and lakes might be harmful, staff at the state environmental agency did not provide one. But in neighboring South Carolina, two power companies are doing just that - moving coal ash away from that state’s rivers and lakes. In fact, Santee Cooper is not only cleaning up its waste dump, it’s also recycling the material. By Mitch Weiss and Michael Biesecker. UPCOMING: 900 words by 3 p.m., photos.

COAL ASH SPILL-NORTH CAROLINA-VIOLATIONS

RALEIGH - State regulators expressed concern Friday about another leaking pipe at a Duke Energy coal ash dump, this time in western North Carolina. The N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources said groundwater is trickling from a pipe at the Cliffside Steam Station in Rutherford County. The pipe drains an emergency storm-water basin built on top of an old coal ash dump, but is only supposed to drain water in severe storms. By Michael Biesecker. SENT: 220 words. UPCOMING: 600 words by 8 p.m.

CANDIDATE FILING

RALEIGH - North Carolina’s top judicial leader appeared likely to be Republican for years to come and GOP U.S. Rep. Robert Pittenger got a late primary challenge from a tea party supporter as candidate filing ended Friday. Two more U.S. Senate candidates also filed before the noon deadline, bringing to 12 those seeking to take Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan’s seat from her. Three state parties will hold primaries May 6. By Gary D. Robertson. SENT: 710 words.

EARNS-BLUE CROSS

RALEIGH - Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina spent $65 million more on systems projects and initiatives in 2013 than it did a year earlier, and much of that increase was attributable to preparing for the Affordable Care Act, the company’s chief financial officer said Friday. North Carolina’s largest insurer spent $220 million in 2013 on projects such as preparing the operating system to handle new products and plans and on expanding network capacity, CFO Gerald Petkau said. By Martha Waggoner. SENT: 390 words.

WATAUGA SCHOOLS-BOOK

BOONE - Watauga County school officials say teachers can still have their students read the book “The House of Spirits.” The county board of education voted 3-2 Thursday night to allow continued use of the book. SENT: 180 words.

DOCTOR’S MINISTRY

WILMINGTON - Before Kristy Shelton found Haven Ministries, she had lost everything. Shelton, now 41, started out as a Fayetteville hair stylist, married and raising raising two children. Then came the drugs. By Si Cantwell, StarNews of Wilmington. SENT: 570 words, AP Photos NCWSN101, NCWSN102.

ALSO:

- MARIJUANA-SCHOOL BUS, from LANDIS - Police in Landis accuse a Rowan County school bus driver of allowing student to smoke marijuana on the bus. SENT: 120 words.

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