Duke Energy had to shut down its Wilmington power plant Friday with the rise of floodwaters amid Hurricane Florence resulting with hazardous stockpile of arsenic-laced coal ash, which is even spilled into the Cape Fear River.
Meanwhile, environmentalists are monitoring breach of a dam at the south end of Sutton Lake and the Duke’s L.V. Sutton plant has already been a focus of concern of regulators. Last week the storm caused erosion of a coal ash landfill and the waste was spilled into a local roadway.
Environmentalists list the coal ash with health issues citing it contains heavy metals like lead and arsenic, which can cause nervous-system problems, cancer and reproductive issues.
As of now the extent of ash released is not known amid record-breaking flooding in North Carolina and the primary focus is how quickly the breach can be stopped. More flooding will continue for another couple of days and by Saturday morning the crest of Cape Fear River will be at 31.3 feet, which is 7 feet more than its historic flood stage.
Another challenge for environmentalists and regulators is the 10 billion gallons of manure produced by about 9.7 million pigs each year. Large earthen lagoons house the manure and it is feared Hurricane Florence could flood these.
Earlier today more than fifty lagoons discharged manure waste into the environment and many more are at risk of the same. Couple of lagoons is suffering structural damage and may release faces of the pigs.
North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality spokeswoman Bridget Munger however assured following a drone survey of the area that there is no structural issue of the basins and the situation is being monitored in real time.
Munger said after the situation stabilizes an investigation will be conducted to analyze causes of the failure.
Adding further she said the dam was inspected very recently and no major problems were found.
The spokeswoman said, “This is a crisis that we’re addressing but it’s in the context of a huge state emergency, so that’s just part of the big picture for us.”
Gov. Roy Cooper of North Carolina too confirmed an investigation will be conducted soon.