Monday, July 6, 2009

Would you like a little coal ash in your water?

Posted By on Mon, Jul 6, 2009 at 11:03 AM

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) lists two area coal ash ponds as hazardous. Guess where they are? Just upstream of Mountain Island Lake, Charlotte's main water source.

Duke Energy's 80-year-old Riverbend Coal Plant Steam Station is only a dozen miles from the center of Uptown Charlotte, straight west on Brookshire Boulevard. The coal ash ponds are located behind the plant.

See for yourself. Here's a link to Google Maps, where you can see the locations of the EPA's high hazard coal ash waste sites. Notice how many of them are in North Carolina.

The plants and ponds sit on the northern end of the lake, the primary source of drinking water for about 750,000 people in Charlotte, Gastonia, Pineville, Mount Holly and Belmont.

Coal ash is a slurry of fly and bottom ash produced by burning coal for power production, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Coal ash contains concentrated forms of dangerous heavy metals such as arsenic, selenium, lead and thallium.

Adding Riverbend’s ash ponds to the top 44 list isn’t a comment on the structural integrity of the ponds or the possibility that they will fail. But the list does serve to warn the public of the significant damage or loss of life likely should the ponds fail, the report states.

More from The Carolina Weekly Newspaper Group.

click to enlarge Satellite image of the coal ash ponds above Mountain Island Lake
  • Satellite image of the coal ash ponds above Mountain Island Lake

Remember Tennessee's coal ash spill this past December?

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