Possible second coal ash leak at same Duke facility

by Jason Schwartz

February 16, 2014

(map details by Waterkeeper Alliance)

A second storm pipe at the site of a Duke Energys coal ash spill in Eden, NC is in danger of failing. This time its a 36-inch concrete pipe that regulators say has the potential by configuration to release ash material in a way similar to the spill on February 2nd.

That earlier spill dumped as much as 39,000 tons of coal ash into the Dan River, a number that has been revised from 82,000.

Officials from North Carolinas Division of Energy Mineral and Land Resources became concerned when they saw video that showed water dripping and flowing through joints of the 36-inch pipe. In spots around the pipe, jets of water indicated other potential leaks were under pressure.

The states Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has given Duke Energy 10 days to come up with a plan and schedule to fix the pipe. Duke agreed, although after reviewing the videotape officials at the company initially said that immediate action was unnecessary.

Waterkeeper Alliance pointed out yet another area of concern at the same site. Strangely discolored rocks were seen near a discharge site. Waterkeeper said their tests revealed high levels of arsenic in the water there. Although DENR says the EPA has already tested the area and found the discoloration to be accumulation of iron bacteria or iron residue, neither DENR or the EPA has provided any information about water testing at the site.

The map accompanying this story is courtesy of Waterkeeper Alliance. It shows the three points of concern. The red line depicts the flow and point of release of the spill on Febrary 2nd. The yellow line shows the location of the 36-inch pipe. The orange line shows the discharge site near the discolored rocks. The green line shows the only permitted discharge point for the entire coal ash impoundment. Note that it is not the same one near the rocks.

Given this information, the massive spill on the 2nd, and its history of deception, influence-buying, and reckless disregard for public or environmental safety, why should anybody buy whatever Dukes saying now?


Jason Schwartz

By Jason Schwartz

Jason Schwartz is a media officer for Greenpeace USA based in New York City.

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