Coal ash breach in Wilmington, N.C.

Photo credit: Duke Energy

WILMINGTON, N.C. — Historic rains from Hurricane Florence caused the release of stormwater, which may have come into contact with coal ash from a lined landfill, at the company’s Sutton Power Plant in Wilmington.

Because of the heavy rainfall amounts, it is difficult to calculate the amount of water that may have reached Sutton Lake, the cooling pond that was constructed to support plant operations.

Inspections today identified a slope failure and erosion in one section of the coal ash landfill, which displaced about 2,000 cubic yards of material and would fill about two-thirds of an Olympic-sized swimming pool. The majority of displaced ash was collected in a perimeter ditch and haul road that surrounds the landfill and is on plant property.

Coal ash is non-hazardous, and the company does not believe this incident poses a risk to public health or the environment. The company is conducting environmental sampling as well.

Site personnel are managing the situation and will proceed with a full repair as weather conditions improve.

Ash basins, which are being excavated, and the cooling pond continue to operate safely.