Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Duke Energy Coal Ash Ponds Contaminate Wells, Residents Told Not to Drink the Water

Energy
Duke Energy Coal Ash Ponds Contaminate Wells, Residents Told Not to Drink the Water

Consequences of Duke Energy's massive coal ash spill into North Carolina's Dan River last February are still being felt, as dozens of residents near the site have been warned by state officials Tuesday not to drink or cook with the water from wells after tests results showed toxic contamination, according to a report from the Associated Press.

Eighty-seven private wells near eight of Duke's plants showed results that failed to meet state groundwater standards, the state's Department of Environment and Natural Resources said. In documents received by the AP, test results showed readings for vanadium—a possible carcinogenic to humans, and a chemical linked to neurological and developmental problems in lab animals—as high as 86 times the state groundwater standard of 0.3 parts per billion.

This unsettling report comes after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Duke both announced the cleanup’s completion in July.

The AP also reported that three Duke Energy employees supplied bottled water for some residents in November and allegedly told them to keep it secret from their neighbors.

"They asked us to not say anything," Levene Mahaley, 83, who has lived near Duke's Buck power plant since 1954 told the AP. "Just don't mention it, that we're getting water. I was surprised, but we didn't ask any questions at the time." Test results from Mahaley's well showed readings for vanadium as high as 26 parts per billion.

When the AP asked Duke about the incident, spokeswoman Erin Culbert said the company was "not aware of any expectation" that the Mahaley residence was to stay quiet.

Test results came from private wells near Duke's Buck, Allen, Asheville, Belews Creek, Cliffside, Marshall, Roxboro and Sutton power plants, where coal ash is stored. Several residents near the plants received a state letter about contamination in their well water.

Duke believes that chemicals found in the private wells are occurring naturally. “Based on the test results we’re reviewed thus far, we have no indication that Duke Energy plant operations have influenced neighbors’ well water,” the company said in a statement.

Environmental advocates, however, are crying foul. "For more than a year, Duke Energy has repeatedly denied even the possibility of drinking water contamination from its leaking coal ash dumps." Pete Harrison a staff attorney for Waterkeeper Alliance told EcoWatch. "Now we're learning that Duke has known at least since last October that toxic heavy metals associated with coal ash is showing up in the water people are drinking."

Despite the test results and advice to not use the water for drinking or cooking, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources said the well water would still meet federal standards for municipal water supplies in nearly all cases.

"All the while, Governor McCrory's administration has been complicit in sweeping this critical information under the rug, so it's no surprise that his Department of Environment and Natural Resources is refusing to take control of the situation and ensure that all affected residents have clean, safe water to drink," Harrison added.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Public Utilities Should Embrace Renewable Energy Revolution, Not Get Run Over By It

Dangers of Coal Ash Gets Much-Needed National Media Attention

How Breathing Coal Ash Is Hazardous to Your Health

One report in spring 2020 found that 38% of students at four-year universities were food-insecure. Frederic J. Brown / AFP / Getty Images

By Matthew J. Landry and Heather Eicher-Miller

When university presidents were surveyed in spring of 2020 about what they felt were the most pressing concerns of COVID-19, college students going hungry didn't rank very high.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Coast Guard members work to clean an oil spill impacting Delaware beaches. U.S. Coast Guard District 5

Environmental officials and members of the U.S. Coast Guard are racing to clean up a mysterious oil spill that has spread to 11 miles of Delaware coastline.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Plain Naturals offers a wide variety of CBD products including oils, creams and gummies.

Plain Naturals is making waves in the CBD space with a new product line for retail customers looking for high potency CBD products at industry-low prices.

Read More Show Less
What happened to all that plastic you've put in the recycling bin over the years? Halfpoint / Getty Images

By Dr. Kate Raynes-Goldie

Of all the plastic we've ever produced, only 9% has been recycled. So what happened to all that plastic you've put in the recycling bin over the years?

Read More Show Less
Donald Trump and Joe Biden arrive onstage for the final presidential debate at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, on Oct. 22, 2020. JIM WATSON / AFP via Getty Images

Towards the end of the final presidential debate of the 2020 election season, the moderator asked both candidates how they would address both the climate crisis and job growth, leading to a nearly 12-minute discussion where Donald Trump did not acknowledge that the climate is changing and Joe Biden called the climate crisis an existential threat.

Read More Show Less

Support Ecowatch