| WINSTON-SALEM, N.C.
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. Feb 6 As many as 82,000
tons of ash have spilled into a river after a pipe break at a
retired coal plant in North Carolina, and state environmental
officials plan to release test results on Thursday that gauge
hazards to the water quality.
The leak was discovered on Sunday at a Duke Energy power
plant in Eden. The company said the broken stormwater pipe under
a 27-acre ash pond released enough coal ash into the Dan River
to fill between 20 and 32 Olympic-size swimming pools.
No immediate threat to drinking water was reported. The
state's Department of Environment and Natural Resources was
conducting tests to determine if the water was safe in the river
where fishing and canoeing are popular activities.
An agency spokeswoman said the latest results on suspended
solids, sulfates and nutrients in water near the spill site were
expected to be made public on Thursday.
Hundreds of workers have been at the site this week trying
to stop the leak and permanently seal the broken pipe, Duke
Energy said in a statement. A spokeswoman said there was no
indication of when the spill, which was visible several miles
downstream, would be fully contained.
"It has slowed since the break was discovered," spokeswoman
Meghan Musgrave said. "Our focus remains on public safety and
fixing this break in the pipe."
Duke Energy, the country's largest electric power provider,
retired the Eden coal plant in 2012. No coal ash has been
produced at the site since then.
The plant was built in the 1940s, and the stormwater pipe
was in place before the ash basin was extended over it, Musgrave
said. The ash pond stored the waste produced by coal burning.
The Waterkeeper Alliance, an international group of water
advocates, said the coal ash spill is "the latest in a series of
wake-up calls" about the public health and environmental threats
of leaking ash ponds.
"Waterkeepers call on Duke Energy to put the safety of the
public and our waterways first by closing all of their ash ponds
before the next disaster happens," the organization said in a