Drinking Wells Show Coal Ash Contaminants
Eighty-seven homes near Duke Energy coal ash ponds around North Carolina have well-water contaminated with heavy metals, according to state environmental regulators.
That doesn’t mean the coal ash ponds are directly responsible for contaminating the water or that it’s unsafe to drink, state regulators say. Most of the 87 wells had levels of iron, manganese, or pH that exceed state groundwater standards—that can be naturally occurring, and primarily affects the water’s taste. But they’re also found in coal ash and could be a sign that ashy water has leaked from the storage ponds into the wells.
State officials sent letters to 117 residents who rely on well water and live within 1,000 feet of a coal ash pond. Of the 87 with red flags, only four exceed federal drinking water standards, according to the agency.
The Associated Press reports about 20 exceeded another state health standard for vanadium—a heavy metal that can cause nausea and diarrhea.
An agency spokesman says they won’t release specific results until they confirm all residents have seen their letters.
The tests were conducted as a part of North Carolina’s sweeping coal ash law, passed last year.