Dam breach at N.C. Duke plant; coal ash could spill

WILMINGTON, N.C. — Florence’s floodwaters breached a dam holding back a large reservoir at a Wilmington power plant Friday, and coal ash from an adjacent dump could be flowing into the nearby Cape Fear River.

Duke Energy spokeswoman Paige Sheehan said the company does not believe the breach at the L.V. Sutton Power Station poses a significant threat for increased flooding to nearby communities because the river is already running high after the hurricane.

Floodwaters from the Cape Fear opened several breaches overnight in the earthen dam at Sutton Lake, a 1,100-acre (445-hectare) reservoir at the power plant. Water from the lake then flooded one of three large coal ash dumps lining the lakeshore.

Sheehan said the company can’t rule out that ash might be escaping from the flooded dump and washing into the river.

 

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