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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.

New Well Tests Support Duke Energy Position Of 'Naturally Occurring' Contaminates

Marshall Steam Station
Duke Energy

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources has released more test results of water wells near three Duke Energy power plants.

These tests were conducted on “background wells” - far enough away from the Allen Steam Station, Buck Steam Station and Marshall Steam Station coal-fired power plants so as not to be impacted by them, thus giving a result that can be used as a comparison to the wells that are closer.

The results show that many of the harmful heavy metals found in the wells adjacent to power plants also show up in similar levels in the background wells.

All of the wells tested met federal drinking water standards.

“The new results validate what we and others have been saying—the constituents found in the water samples occur naturally at various levels across the state,” Duke Energy said in a press release.

Previously, about 300 well owners who live near power plants were told not to drink their well water.

As part of the Coal Ash Management Act, DENR is currently conducting a comprehensive groundwater assessment of drinking wells near all fourteen of the state’s facilities with coal ash pits. 

Dave DeWitt is WUNC's Feature News Editor. As an editor, reporter, and producer he's covered politics, environment, education, sports, and a wide range of other topics.
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