Georgia has 28 coal ash ponds, Ohio has 69 coal ash ponds and the number one state with the most toxic waste storage is Indiana with 71 coals ash ponds. Duke Energy pleaded guilty one year ago in May to nine criminal acts of violating the Clean Water Act due to site ruptures in 2014 that poured tons of dangerous coal ash waste into the Dan River nearest Eden.
Coal ash contaminates our live and coal ash combustion product is created when power plants burn coal to generate electricity for the United States. Coal combustion products CCPs include coal ash, synthetic gypsum also known as flue gas desulfurization FGD gypsum, FGD solids and cenospheres.
North Carolina wants the flood of contaminates cleaned up and is requiring Duke to do the cleanup at 14 facilities especially the four sites that have the greatest environmental risks. The administration of Gov. Pat McCrory is also asking the EPA Office of Civil Rights and the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and its North Carolina Committee to review and approve each study before a state permit is issued
Coal ash contains abnormally high levels of arsenic, copper, chromium, cadium lead and mercury and selenium. Racial minorities and low income individuals are the ones who carry the burden of the toxic leak damage because most of the storage ponds are in those areas. It gets into the air and into the ground water and drinking water supply. The rate of cancers and brain tumors in these areas is unprecedented. The Associated Press is reporting that 152 out of 163 water wells within 1,000 feet of Duke Energy coal ash ponds failed to meet state standards for safety for human consumption reporting 93-percent contamination. The research shows high levels of lead, vanadium and hexavalent chromium-6 which has been proven in a case by Erin Brockovich and Hinkley by PG & E to cause multiple cancers in the community that surrounds it.
In the famous movie Erin Brockovich the water migrated underneath properties and into water wells and caused the community to have frequent bloody noses, lupus and brain, stomach and breast tumors and cancer. The Hollywood movie earned Julia Robert an Academy Award for her portrayal of Erin Brockovich, but the story of contaminated water and the dire need for safe drinking water left its impression on everybody who has watched it.
In 1993 it was discovered that PG & E has used water filtration devices, bottled water and home buyouts to deal with the effects in the small town of Hinkley. There is no book that tells you how to deal with the cleanup, and the death of a small town was inevitable. It will be another town lost in America to pollution. 17 years after the settlement in which the San Francisco-based Pacific Gas & Electric Company awarded $333 million to more than 600 residents of the plumes boundaries. The residents are fleeing and its only school closed in 2013.
The signs of something going wrong in Hinckley was a bay horse owned by Carmela Gonzalez, now Carmela Spasojevich, sounded the alarm in 2010 that the chromium-6 had spread dramatically. The spread of chromium-6 has quadrupled since the original damage. The horse was dehydrated. When she started using bottled water the horse began drinking water again. Carmela started doing some digging again and sure enough records submitted to the water agency by PG&E, showed the contamination had expanded. She began calling neighbors. “Some levels were off the chart.” Some levels were below the requirement but the town people have been this way before. Carmela found her own water levels tested for chromium in 2007 for 1.9 ppb to 18.8 ppb in 2010 a giant increase and still considered below state standard of 50 ppb.
If the Hinkley compressor had been somewhere else like Oregon or Ohio where the yearly rainfall supports a rich plant life, the soil would have converted the chromium-6 to chromium-3, which scientists say is benign. “This is crazy I thought they would contain it like a fence and some of the same health problems are showing up again.”
PG&E started pouring alfalfa over the fields and irrigating the fields with the contaminated water from below. They say the conversion from chromium- 6 to chromium-3 happens quickly in the root zone.
Duke Energy has its hands full their are hundreds of contaminated sites across the United States and over 1,400 spills. The Hinkley story gives you an idea of the contamination and health problems your state could be up against. The ongoing contamination has spread in Hinkley and the town is surring health wise and is dried up.
Officials stressed caution.