Pipe at another coal ash dump is leaking groundwater

Feb. 28, 2014 @ 11:16 PM

RALEIGH — State regulators expressed concern Friday about another leaking pipe at a Duke Energy coal ash dump, this time in western North Carolina.

The N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources said groundwater is trickling from a pipe at the Cliffside Steam Station in Rutherford County. The pipe drains an emergency storm-water basin built on top of an old coal ash dump, but is only supposed to drain water in severe storms.

State officials said the corrugated metal pipe is heavily corroded and taking in groundwater, which is draining out at a rate of more than 1,100 gallons a day. Duke staff is sampling the potentially contaminated groundwater coming from the pipe for toxic metals associated with coal ash.

The pipe empties into rocks a few feet from the Broad River, but the agency said there is no indication the flow has reached the waterway.

"Fortunately, we observe no environmental impacts from this discharge," said Tom Reeder, director of the N.C. Division of Water Resources. "However, we need to emphasize increased attention to all aspects of the infrastructure at Duke Energy's facilities across the state."

The issue at Cliffside comes about four weeks after a similar pipe collapsed at Duke's plant in Eden, coating 70 miles of the Dan River with toxic sludge.