Flood waters have forced Duke Energy to shut down its power plant along the Cape Fear River near Wilmington.
Duke said Friday it shut down the gas-fired Sutton plant after flood waters reached the plant overnight and overran a lake once used by a coal plant on the site. State environmental officials also are watching to see if the flooding affects coal ash stored at the site.
"What we know is the Cape fear River has spilled into the Sutton lake. Sutton Lake has spilled over into Duke's transmission yard. So they have evacuated their employees," said North Carolina Environmental Secretary Michael Regan.
Regan said officials still don't know if any coal ash has filtered into the Cape Fear River from three coal-ash dumps on the site, where Duke operated a coal-fired power plant until 2013. Last weekend, coal ash spilled from a landfill under construction onto nearby land.
Duke says workers are shoring up walls containing the coal ash and planning repairs.
The company says the flooding is "an evolving situation." Forecasters say the river could reach a record flood stage Monday.