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Dozens more households near Duke Energy’s unlined coal ash pits advised not to drink water

Dozens more households near Duke Energy’s unlined coal ash pits advised not to drink water

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Of the 224 contaminated wells identified as of June 9th, more than half surround Allen (Lake Wylie) and Marshall (Lake Norman)

Dozens more households near Duke Energy’s unlined coal ash pits advised not to drink water

Coal ash at Allen Steam Station on Lake Wylie. The ponds are bound by the river/lake and by the Belmont community with contaminated wells.

RALEIGH, NC -- The North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources on Thursday released additional sampling results from private drinking water wells used by residents living near Duke Energy’s unlined coal ash pits at 11 facilities across the state. 

Contamination exceeding the state’s health screening levels is present in 92 percent, or 224,  of the 242 wells where results have been returned to the state. Households with contaminated well water have been advised that their water is not suitable for drinking due to elevated levels of hexavalent chromium, vanadium, thallium, manganese, selenium, lead, iron, cobalt, zinc, antimony, and other contaminants.

More than 100 households in Belmont near Duke Energy’s G.G. Allen power plant have received letters advising them not to drink their well water, the greatest number of any plant so far. About half those wells have unsafe levels of hexavalent chromium, a carcinogen linked to industrial pollution.

“The updated sampling data continues to reveal a strong pattern of drinking water well contamination immediately next door to unlined coal ash ponds. Nowhere in the state is this more true than on the Catawba River, where Allen and Marshall account for the majority of wells identified by the state as unsafe for drinking and cooking,” said Catawba Riverkeeper Sam Perkins. “How many more wells and hundreds of people must be affected before Duke Energy truly takes responsibility and cleans up its mess?”

Matthew Starr, Upper Neuse Riverkeeper, said the well water sampling continues to show the impact to the Neuse River, groundwater, and the community.

“With more mounting evidence showing coal ash contamination, we still have not seen the state take any action at the Lee facility to protect the environment our local citizens,” Starr said.

Waterkeeper Alliance and the Yadkin Riverkeeper Foundation conducted well water tests last year at Buck Steam Station that showed hexavalent chromium in people’s drinking water wells. A year later, this sampling corroborates those results.

“An additional seven families will be receiving 'Don't Drink Your Water' letters at Buck Steam Station," said Yadkin Riverkeeper Will Scott.  "That 44 out of 45 wells tested at Buck so far were above state standards shows that the entire Dukeville deserves a long-term supply of clean water, provided by Duke Energy."

A summary of the sampling can be found here:

A spreadsheet of results is available here:

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From the perspectives of 12 NC Riverkeepers, this report discusses how multiple environmental issues pose challenges in the pursuit of clean, plentiful water. Whether you are in North Carolina or downstream in South Carolina, read this report about the state of environmental enforcement.
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The Community Foundation will fund Catawba Riverkeeper's work in Gaston County.
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Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation in partnership with 4-H Clemson Cooperative Extension successfully completed our pilot Education Outreach Program with 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students from Great Falls Elementary.
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Fish consumption advisories have been issued throughout the Catawba-Wateree River basin.  Many of these advisories are the result of testing initiated by Catawba Riverkeeper and confirmed by state and local officials.  For a chart identifying fish types with the applicable advisories for the Charlotte area, click here.   For more information about the fish advisories, click here.

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