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A Mountain Of Toxic Coal Ash Has Been Washed Away And May Be In North Carolina's Tap Water

Waterkeeper Alliance

By now, you've read dozens of stories about the aftermath of Hurricane Florence and local efforts trying to bring some normalcy back to the cities affected.

The heavy rains have caused more than $18 billion in damages, and some people are worried that the environmental effects of Florence may last for decades.

One concern is industrial hog farms, which hold an overwhelming amount of manure.

These waste pits contain dangerous bacteria like e.coli and salmonella. If this waste ends up in the storm water, people can be at risk of developing all sorts of health issues, such as kidney, stomach, and skin infections.

"To be really blunt and honest there are a lot of these farms upstream from homes that are flooded or will be flooded and it will wash through people's homes and cover their belongings. Recovering from a flood is difficult. How do you come back from this I don't know. It's pretty terrible," Cape Fear Riverkeeper Kemp Burdette told CNN.

Another concern is toxic coal ash, and this one has got a lot of people talking...

Duke Energy’s coal ash spill from February 2014.Waterkeeper Alliance/Rick Dove

While many people are still struggling to get power to their homes, that may be the least of their worries.

Last weekend, one of Duke Energy's giant coal ash landfills at a closed power station near the North Carolina coast collapsed, leaking toxic material like arsenic, lead, and mercury.

According to a report by AP, there's enough toxic waste to fill 180 giant dump trucks.

It's believed that a couple more coal-fired plants in the state may have been affected by Florence.

Many people are concerned that this waste may end up in the state's drinking water.

But according to Duke spokeswoman Paige Sheehan, the contaminated runoff likely flowed into the plant’s cooling pond.

While some argue Duke Energy has measures to protect citizens from such a catastrophic contamination, others aren't buying it.

Ever since the Republicans repealed President Obama's restrictions on coal ash, there has been overwhelming concern over the risk of contamination.

Also, after Duke plead guilty to nine Clean Water Act violations, the public hopes something will be done to protect citizens.

Spokeswoman Megan S. Thorpe at the state’s Department of Environmental Quality Department of Environmental Quality said they're closely monitoring the situation.

[H/T: Reuters/Waterkeeper Alliance/Return To Now]

What's your take on this issue? Do you think the government should step in?

Moojan has been a writer at Shared for almost a year. When she's not on the lookout for viral content, she's looking at cute animal photos. Reach her at moojan@shared.com.