Coal Ash Problem Bigger than Previously Thought

As State officials return from the holidays and begin sifting through all of the information being generated about the coal ash ponds in North Carolina, it is becoming apparent that the problem is bigger than previously believed, and that very little is know about how whether the contamination from the ash ponds will affect drinking water wells or other water supplies.

Coal Ash Problem Bigger than Previously Thought

Wells around the Allen Steam Station

In his presentation to the Environmental Review Commission on December 10, 2014, Tom Reeder, Director of the N.C. Division of Water Resources, stated there was an additional 43,350,000 tons of coal stored out of ponds) beyond what had previously been reported (bringing the total to 151,239,000 tons of coal ash. Reeder said 108 million tons of ash is stored in ponds, but an additional 43 million tons stored outside of the ponds also will have to be covered or moved to lined landfills.  (Raleigh News & Observer.)

* * *

According to the N&O, Tom Reeder told the State Environmental Review Commission:

"We don't have the faintest idea what's going on underneath these coal ash ponds," ... "It's impossible to prioritize without this data."

* * *

[In December, the State planned to begin] sending postcards to the owners of wells within 1,000 feet of each basin's compliance boundary offering to have them tested. (A compliance boundary is the sphere around each basin where higher contamination levels must be contained.) If the owners consent, 335 wells would be tested, 15 of which are part of public water systems. Some are in or near residential subdivisions.

Duke Energy was also required to identify all the wells within 2,640 feet of each basin's compliance boundary, and it came up with 482 more wells. Some of those will be tested for a wide range of indicators of the presence of coal ash.

Many of the recently identified wells near coal ash disposal sites are near the Allen Steam Station on Lake Wylie or the Marshall Steam Station on Lake Norman, which have massive amounts of coal ash stored in a variety of impoundments.

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