A North Carolina judge has denied Duke Energy's motion seeking to shield records related to groundwater pollution leeching from 33 coal ash dumps in the state while a separate federal criminal investigation is ongoing.

Superior Court Judge Paul Ridgeway made his ruling Friday. It came after Duke lawyer Jim Cooney scaled back the company's request to restrict access to documents in a civil case filed last year by state regulators over environmental violations.

Duke had initially argued public disclosure of the documents could taint the criminal probe. A federal grand jury has issued at least 23 subpoenas to the state and Duke following a Feb. 2 coal ash spill that coated 70 miles of the Dan River in toxic gray sludge.

Duke could still seek to seal some records as trade secrets.