Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Enviro groups launch coal-ash website

Environmental advocates have created an interactive Web guide to coal ash, the power-plant residue that burst into national focus four years ago with a billion-gallon rupture at a Tennessee plant. The site, www.SoutheastCoalAsh.org, launched Tuesday.

North Carolina hasn't seen such catastrophe, but ash is rightly an issue in a state that still heavily depends on coal power. In high doses, metals found in ash can make people and the environment sick.

Groundwater is contaminated near ash ponds at 14 Duke Energy plants, including those formerly owned by merger partner Progress Energy. Much of the contamination, such as high levels of iron, likely came from natural sources. But other elements, such as selenium, seem to point toward leaking ponds.

North Carolina is one of nine states featured on the new site, a project of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, Appalachian Voices, Southern Environmental Law Center and the N.C. Conservation Network.

The Web site houses a database of 100 power plants in the Southeast, categorized by how much damage they would do if they broke. North Carolina has more "high-hazard" dams, meaning ruptures could kill people, than any other state in the Southeast.

A few clicks will take you to deeper detail, including what's known about contamination around each plant as well as local and state contacts.



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