Coal Ash Dumps May Contaminate Local Wells

Coal Ash Dumps May Contaminate Local Wells

8:54pm Apr 21, 2015
Duke Energy's Buck Steam Station in Rowan County, one of eight areas tested by the NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
Duke Energy via Flickr

The coal ash dumps near some Duke Energy plants in North Carolina are causing problems again. Tests of 87 private wells near eight Duke Energy plants showed results that failed to meet state groundwater standards.North Carolina officials are advising dozens of residents near Duke Energy coal ash dumps not to drink or cook with water from their wells after tests showed contamination with toxic heavy metals.

The agency's first public acknowledgment of the troubling results came after The Associated Press reported that 19 homeowners and a church near a Duke Energy plant near Salisbury had received written warnings. Several of the letters cited high levels of vanadium, a metal found in coal ash classified as hazardous by federal health officials.

A law passed after last year's spill into the Dan River required the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources to sample wells within 1,000 feet of Duke Energy's 32 coal ash dumps.

Duke Energy spokesperson Erin Culbert said that other chemicals at issue could be naturally occurring in local soils.  

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