Coal Ash contaminating the Neuse? Duke Energy and DEQ say no.

Matthew Starr shows the coal ash in the Neuse near HF Lee on 9/19

The NC Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and Duke Energy said this week that coal ash from their HF Lee plant in Goldsboro did leak, but their sampling results indicate the coal ash is not currently contaminating the Neuse River.

However, results from sampling done by your Upper Neuse Riverkeeper, Matthew Starr, directly after Hurricane Florence, say otherwise.

Starr said in response to the news, “Our results clearly indicate that coal ash contaminated Neuse River flood waters. We certainly hope that DEQ will continue to evaluate the impacts the coal ash is having on the natural environment and asses any long-term risks to the river and public health.”

This article in the News & Observer mentions a variety of reasons for different results, including that DEQ and Duke Energy have been sampling downstream, where the coal ash would be diluted. DEQ says the Neuse River is testing low enough for heavy metals that it meets the standards for drinking water – but your Upper Neuse Riverkeeper’s tests indicated arsenic present in the river at 18 times the recommended level.

Even a low level of coal ash in your waterways can affect aquatic wildlife, and it can accumulate over time. In 2014, state law and lawsuits from environmental organizations – including Sound Rivers – required Duke Energy to remove coal ash from the floodplain and into lined landfills. However, that has yet to be completed and so toxic coal ash continues to threaten our environment and our communities. Your Riverkeepers will continue the fight for clean water, and keep you up to date on this issue as it progresses.

Read more in an article from the Charlotte Business Journal here.