News | September 21, 2016

Testing shows high levels of arsenic in water next to leaking, unlined N.C. coal ash pits

New, third-party testing of water in the Yadkin River near unpermitted and illegal seeps in Duke Energy’s coal ash dams shows that the river is contaminated with arsenic levels more than four times higher than water safety standards. Arsenic is one of many toxins found in coal ash. The river water sample was taken next to Duke Energy’s leaking coal ash pits at the Buck site in Salisbury, N.C. 

Other pollutants detected in the Yadkin River include elevated levels of aluminum, copper, and lead. Complete test results can be viewed here.

Previous sampling also shows that illegal seepage that flows into the river at the base of Duke Energy’s coal ash dams contains even higher levels of arsenic—as much as five times the safety standard.  

“This is further confirmation of what Duke Energy has known for years: that coal ash pollution is leaking out of its coal ash pits and into surrounding waters,” said Senior Attorney Frank Holleman. “The Buck site is the only retired coal plant site in the state where Duke Energy has not agreed to excavate its coal ash. It’s time for Duke Energy to stop covering up its pollution at the Buck site, and start removing its coal ash from these leaking, unlined pits.” 

SELC represents the Yadkin Riverkeeper and Waterkeeper Alliance in state and federal court actions seeking to clean up Duke Energy’s coal ash pollution at its Buck site. The Buck site, where this sampling occurred, stopped burning coal for power in 2013 and continues to store massive quantities of coal ash in leaking, unlined pits next to the Yadkin River. SELC also represents conservation groups in state and federal court actions seeking to clean up Duke Energy’s coal ash pollution from 14 leaking, unlined sites across North Carolina.