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Residents questions Duke Energy about safety of well water

Residents questions Duke Energy about safety of well water

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Tuesday night state leaders told a crowd of concerned homeowners they're testing the groundwater near Duke coal ash ponds and miles away from the sites to determine if Duke Energy or Mother Nature is to blame.

Residents questions Duke Energy about safety of well water

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    Excerpt from

    By: Brittney Johnson


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    Deborah Graham came to the meeting armed with research to hear state health leaders explain why her well water is unsafe. 

    "Hoping tonight we can find answers. We want truth and we want respect," she said.

    Toxicologist Dr. Ken Rudo's office sets state health standards and said they've notified roughly 200 homeowners whose water measures unsafe levels of metals, including Vanadium and cancer-causing Hexavalent chromium.

    "This is not a good situation," Dr. Rudo told the crowd. 

    Most of the people in the crowd live near Duke coal ash ponds. The company said recent test results show they're not responsible for the contamination. 

    Spokesperson Erin Colbert said, "It's important for all of us to rely on good objective data. Right now the data is telling us we are not seeing any impact from the ash basin.

    Lisa Bradley, a toxicology expert consulting for Duke, questioned the state's standards that deemed the water unsafe.

    "I can't explain why these levels are so low, it's something I hope to understand too," she said as she handed the microphone to Rudo. 

    She brought slides showing where the metals naturally occur in our everyday environment and even in adult vitamins at higher levels than the North Carolina state limit.

    Channel 9 asked health officials if the water is indeed dangerous.

    "I don't know that there is enough research that you can be confident about the limits and whether something is dangerous or not," said Rowan County environmentalist Tad Helmstetler.

    Right now toxicologists are erring on the side of caution while homeowners wait to see who will be held responsible. 

    The state is overseeing testing around all the sites and miles away from the coal ash ponds for background. 

    Groundwater test results are due back in August. If Duke is found responsible, the company said it will pay for a safe permanent water source. If the metals are naturally occurring, the families would be on their own.

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