Pension funds target Duke Energy directors over ash spill

Reuters

April 15 (Reuters) - The California Public Employees' Retirement System and New York City Pension Funds have written to shareholders of Duke Energy Corp, urging them to vote against the re-election of four directors.

The funds blamed Duke Energy directors Alex Bernhardt, James Hyler, James Rhodes and Carlos Saladrigas for the 39,000 ton coal ash spill in North Carolina's Dan river in February, after a stormwater pipe broke under a 27-acre ash pond at the company's coal plant.

The directors "failed to fulfill their obligations of risk oversight as members of a committee overseeing health, safety, and environmental compliance at the company," the funds wrote in a joint letter to shareholders on Monday. (http://r.reuters.com/vam58v)

Duke Energy was not immediately available for comment outside regular U.S. business hours.

The company, United States' largest electric-power provider, said last month that it will move coal ash from three plants and speed up the closure of an additional basin as the company came under increased scrutiny after a massive spill in North Carolina contaminated a river used for drinking water.

The directors will be seeking re-election at the company's annual meeting on May 1.

(Reporting by Arnab Sen in Bangalore; Editing by Joyjeet Das)

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