Florence-Spurred Dam Breach At NC Power Plant May Trigger Coal Ash Spill

In this Sept. 19, 2018, photo released by Cape Fear River Watch, heavy rains from Hurricane Florence erode and breach a coal ash landfill at the L.V. Sutton Power Station in Wilmington, N.C. The landfill under constr... In this Sept. 19, 2018, photo released by Cape Fear River Watch, heavy rains from Hurricane Florence erode and breach a coal ash landfill at the L.V. Sutton Power Station in Wilmington, N.C. The landfill under construction at the site ruptured over the weekend, spilling enough material to fill 180 dump trucks. Coal ash contains arsenic, mercury and other toxic metals.(Kemp Burdette/Cape Fear River Watch via AP) MORE LESS
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September 21, 2018 11:53 a.m.

A dam containing a large lake at a Wilmington power plant has been breached by floodwaters from the storm Florence, and coal ash from an adjacent dump might be flowing into the Cape Fear River.

Duke Energy spokeswoman Paige Sheehan told The Associated Press on Friday that floodwaters were continuing to overtop an earthen dike at the north side of Sutton Lake, a 1,100-acre (445-hectare) reservoir at the L.V. Sutton Power Station. That water has caused breaches in the dam on the south end of the lake, which is flowing back into the river.

Sheehan said floodwaters also had overtopped a steel retaining wall containing one of three large coal ash dumps lining the lakeshore. Sheehan says Duke can’t rule out that ash might be escaping and flowing into the river.

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