October 1, 2010

Coal Ash Pond Failure in Wilmington, NC

WILMINGTON: Monday's near record-setting rainfall took a toll on more than people's nerves driving over flooded roads.

Along U.S. 421 North, a portion of one of Progress Energy's coal-ash ponds at its Sutton Electric Plant failed – although officials aren't sure if Monday's persistent rainfall was the cause.

Spokesman Scott Sutton said crews found the damage, which they initially thought was a sinkhole, late Monday night while inspecting the dam.

The breach in one of the Sutton Plant's two unlined coal-ash ponds comes as federal and state regulators are taking a new look at whether to reclassify coal ash as a hazardous material. The renewed attention comes due to concerns tied to a massive coal-ash pond failure in Tennessee two years ago that buried nearly 400 acres of river, wetlands and some nearby homes in up to six feet of black and gray sludge.

Coal ash is loaded with metals that can be toxic at high levels. While contaminants from the Sutton ponds are leaching into the groundwater, testing has shown the pollution to be slow moving and within the plant's compliance footprint.

Read the full story at the Wilmington Star

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