Sep 17, 2018

Hurricane Florence Causes Coal Ash & Hog Wastewater Contamination

Around 180 dump trucks worth of coal ash displaced along power station 

Around 180 dump trucks worth of coal ash displaced along power station.
Around 180 dump trucks worth of coal ash displaced along power station.

As the rain from Hurricane Florence continues to flood North Carolina, the local ash dumps and hog farms are among the affected. According to the Associated Press, the collapse of a coal ash landfill at the L.V. Sutton Power Station, near Wilmington, N.C., is an “on-going situation.

According to Paige Sheehan from Duke Energy, about 2,000 cu yards of ash were displaced at the L. V. Sutton Power Station outside Wilmington. That would be enough to fill 180 dump trucks. An unknown amount of potentially contaminated water is flowing into a nearby lake. At another power plant nearby, three coal ash dumps with a layer of soil were flooded by the Neuse River.

“We think the majority of the ash is settling out before it gets to the lake,” Sheehan said to AP. “We believe the chances are minimal that coal ash constituents will make it to the Cape Fear.”

A photographer from AP also saw several flooded hog farms along the Trent River in North Carolina Sunday. It was not clear if any animals remained inside the buildings. The farms will typically have large pits filled with animal urine and feces, which can cause significant water contamination.

Duke Energy has been under scrutiny since its handling of a drainage pipe collapse under a waste pit at an old plant in Eden in 2014. The spill coated 70 miles of the Dan River in sludge.

“Disposing of coal ash close to waterways is hazardous, and Duke Energy compounds the problem by leaving most of its ash in primitive unlined pits filled with water,” said Frank Holleman, senior attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center.

Duke pleaded guilty to nine Clean Water Act violations and agreed to pay $102 million in fines for illegally discharging pollution from coal-ash dumps at five power plants in North Carolina. The company is currently in the process of closing all of its coal ash dumps by 2029.