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Duke Energy required to pay $102-million penalty for illegally polluting North Carolina's rivers with coal ash


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(NaturalNews) In yet another example of blatant disregard for our environment and its inhabitants, Duke Energy, the largest electric power holding company in the U.S., has been ordered to pay a $102-million penalty after it was found guilty of polluting North Carolina's rivers.

As a result, more than 120 North Carolina residents have received letters from the state warning them not to use their water because their wells have been contaminated with toxic coal ash pollution, making the water unsafe for drinking or cooking.

Coal production in the U.S. results in more than 140 million tons of toxic coal ash pollution that is dumped into more than 1,100 coal ash ponds nationwide, 32 of which are located in North Carolina.

Many residents living near Duke's coal ash ponds say they haven't been able to use their well water in more than a year after an environmental group detected elevated levels of lead, vanadium and hexavalent chromium.

Dozens of North Carolina families unable to use water after wells tested positive for high levels of dangerous compounds

More than 150 residential wells failed to meet state groundwater standards, according to state testing. Despite the evidence, Duke continues to deny that its 32 dumps in the state contaminated residents' drinking water, reports USNews.com.

Although Duke did plead guilty to nine misdemeanor violations of the Clean Water Act, the company says the heavy metal compounds found in many residents' wells are "naturally occurring."

"I'm not seeing the types of levels that would give us any indication the plant has had influence over these wells," said Erin Culbert, the Communications Manager for Duke. "We really want to have a very good and trusting relationship with all of our plant neighbors, but particularly at this site, the data doesn't support that concern."

For the families that received letters from the state, Duke is providing bottled water if they request it. Many residents just want an apology.

"Duke just won't admit their coal ash is poisoning my water," said Barbara Morales, whose well is just a few hundred feet from two coal ash basins near the Catawba River. "They need to take responsibility."

North Carolina resident: "I think every American citizen is entitled to clean water"

As much as 39,000 tons of coal ash and 27 million gallons of ash slurry were spilled from a Duke containment pond in February 2014, coating the Dan River with thick sludge for 62 miles. The spill was the third largest in U.S. history and prompted a federal investigation. This resulted in their latest conviction, which does not require them to clean up the coal ash ponds that threaten the region's waterways, wetlands and groundwater, reports the LA Times.

"I think every American citizen is entitled to clean water," said Dukeville resident Joann Thomas, who admits she is even afraid to shower.

Sherry Gobble's drinking well is about 250 feet from Buck Steam Station, the largest of Duke's three open-air coal ash pits, which tested for hexavalent chromium at more than 50 times the allowable limit set by state health officials. Vanadium levels were nine times the state's allowed groundwater limit.

According to the EPA, hexavalent chromium is likely carcinogenic if ingested. It causes irritation to the nose, throat and lungs upon inhalation and might cause lung cancer. High concentrations of hexavalent chromium[PDF] can also irritate or damage the skin and eyes.

Blinded by greed, corporations' irresponsible actions continue to threaten our access to clean water. With AquaTru, you don't have to live in fear any longer. AquaTru is the first and only countertop reverse osmosis water purifier that easily creates bottled quality water straight from your tap.

Additional sources include:




https://www.osha.gov/OshDoc/data_General_Facts/hexavalent_chromium.pdf [PDF]


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