COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - When Duke Energy officials appeared last week before South Carolina regulators, they said the utility's coal ash pits in the state were safe.

They assured members of the Public Service Commission that the ash pits were designed differently from the one that failed at Duke's Eden, N.C., plant, coating a 70-mile stretch of the Dan River in toxic sludge.

But what the executives failed to mention was that the company had been cited by state environmental regulators a month earlier for potentially serious problems at its W.S. Lee Power Station in Anderson County.

Duke spokeswoman Paige Sheehan says the coal ash pits at the Lee power plant are safe.

But Frank Holleman, a senior attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center, says Duke didn't tell the commission the full story.

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