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 Riverkeeper: Coal ash threatens water supply

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March Mellow



Join date : 2009-04-26
Posts : 209
Location : Char-Meck

PostSubject: Riverkeeper: Coal ash threatens water supply   Wed Jul 01, 2009 12:11 pm

Riverkeeper: Coal ash threatens water supply
2 dams are near Mountain Island Lake, drinking-water source for Charlotte area's biggest population centers.
By Bruce Henderson
bhenderson@charlotteobserver.com
Posted: Wednesday, Jul. 01, 2009



Charlotte's water supply is at risk from coal ash basins at Duke Energy's Riverbend power plant on Mountain Island Lake, the Catawba riverkeeper charged Tuesday.


On Monday the Environmental Protection Agency listed 10 of Duke's ash basins, including two at Riverbend, among 44 “high hazard potential” impoundments nationwide. The EPA report followed the collapse of a coal ash basin in Tennessee last December.


Riverbend's two basins lie above Mountain Island Lake, the drinking water source for 750,000 people in Charlotte, Pineville, Gastonia, Mount Holly and Belmont. Coal ash contains metals that can be toxic to people and wildlife.


Riverkeeper David Merryman said Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities refused, when he asked, to produce a contingency plan to provide water if the basins failed. Such a failure, he said, could disrupt water supplies indefinitely.


“We deserve appropriate action and conclusive assurance that hazardous coal ash waste along the Catawba River, at lakes Norman, Mountain Island and Wylie, does not place the safety of nearly 2 million people's drinking water at direct, immediate risk,” Merryman said.


The EPA also listed as high hazard Duke basins at its Allen power plant on Lake Wylie and Marshall plant on Lake Norman.


Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities said it won't go into details about emergency response plans.


“Utilities has procedures in place for any water contamination emergency,” spokesman Cam Coley said in a written response. “For that reason, Utilities has invested in storage, monitoring, redundant facilities, and a water shortage response plan.”


The most recent independent inspection of Riverbend's basin dikes, in 2005, found “no obvious signs of imminent instability or serious inadequacy,” state files show. The N.C. Utilities Commission requires such inspections every five years.


Duke spokesman Jason Walls said the dikes are sound. The five-year inspections, yearly inspections by Duke staff and monthly visual checks “make up a very robust maintenance and monitoring program,” he said.

http://www.charlotteobserver.com/breaking/story/810215.html
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