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Energy & Environment

DEQ Says Mooresville Sinkhole Is On Site Filled With Coal Ash

State environmental officials say the sinkhole is in the parking lot of this automotive business on N.C. 150 in Mooresville.
David Boraks
/
WFAE
State environmental officials say the sinkhole is in the parking lot of this automotive business on N.C. 150 in Mooresville.

State environmental officials are investigating a sinkhole in a parking lot in Mooresville where coal ash was used as fill.  The Department of Environmental Quality says a culvert pipe under the lot collapsed during heavy rains last Thursday, spilling coal ash into a stream.

The sink hole is in the parking lot of an automotive shop on Highway 150, just east of I-77.  It's also about 7½ miles east of Duke Energy's coal-fired Marshall Steam Station on Lake Norman.  

NCDEQ has been monitoring the site for more than a year. It has been repaired at least twice before, in 2018 and 2019. After last week's rains, DEQ workers inspected the site, and found sediment containing coal ash in the stream bed on the other side of Highway 150. 

DEQ said it has collected water samples from the stream and is continuing to monitor the site.  Officials have discussed repairs with the property owner. 

Coal ash is what's left after burning coal, and contains toxic heavy metals. For decades it was used as fill because it was cheap and readily available. But there were no reporting requirements until 1994.