Wednesday, May 06, 2015

93% of groundwater tested near Duke Energy coal ash pits not suitable for drinking or cooking

The North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources said on Tuesday that 152 out of 163 wells tested near Duke Energy coal ash pits failed to meet groundwater standards, and the agency has warned residents in the area not to drink or cook with well water, Michael Biesecker reports for The Associated Press.

"Many of the tests results show high levels of toxic heavy metals such as lead, vanadium and hexavalent chromium," Biesecker  writes. "Last month, the state said tests of 87 private wells near eight Duke plants showed results that failed to meet state groundwater standards." A state law passed after last year's spill dumped 82,000 tons of coal ash in the Dan River "required testing of all drinking wells within 1,000 feet of Duke's 32 coal ash dumps. A separate state law passed in the wake of the Dan River spill requires the company to move or cap all of its dumps by 2029."

"Duke stores more than 150 million tons of coal ash in 32 dumps at 14 power plants in North Carolina," Biesecker  writes. "In February, federal prosecutors charged Duke with nine criminal counts over years of illegal pollution leaking from ash dumps at five of the plants. The company has said it intends to plead guilty to the charges next week as part of an agreement requiring it to pay $102 million in fines and restitution." (Read more)

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