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Coal ash is the waste that remains when coal is burned. It is usually collected in a dump, known as a pond. North Carolina has more than 30 such sites in 14 different locations across the state. A pipe running under one of the ponds run by Duke Energy in Eden NC ruptured in February of 2014. The coal ash spilled, largely affecting the Dan River which flows into Virginia. The spill is the third largest of its kind in U.S. history.Many see potential complications because North Carolina's governor, Pat McCrory, worked for Duke Energy for 28 years.

Day 31 Of The Coal Ash Spill: Eight More Metal Pipes

The Dan River bank with residual dark grey coal ash.
Steven Alexander

State regulators with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) say there are additional metal pipes at Duke Energy coal ash ponds that pose a threat. It was a metal corrugated storm water pipe running under a coal ash pond in Eden that ruptured 31 days ago, setting off the third largest spill of its kind in U-S history. DENR announced today that eight other metal pipes run through retention walls, around coal ash pits, but not under them. These eight serve a different function than the pipe that broke last month. The eight discharge pipes remove surface water from the top of the lagoons once coal ash has settled at the bottom. Duke has previously stated it was unaware of any other metal pipes at its 14 coal-fired power plants.

"We are going to be looking at if there are corrosion issues going on with some of the corrugated metal pipes or if there are leaks that could become problems down the road," said, Jamie Kritzer, with DENR

Regulators with DENR are asking Duke for emergency action plans, maps and videos of the insides of pipes. Governor Pat McCrory has said his preference is for coal ash to be removed by his former employer. The CEO of Duke says the utility is working on short and long term solutions and will provide a plan by March 15th. The third largest coal ash spill in US history has led to criticism of DENR and sparked a federal criminal investigation of the agency's relationship with the utility.

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