WILMINGTON, N.C. -- Water analysis found toxic levels of arsenic and selenium in the Cape Fear following a coal ash spill from Duke's Sutton plant in Wilmington.
- According to a release from Waterkeeper Alliance, a sample taken on Sept. 21 showed arsenic levels 71 times higher than the NC water quality standard
- Duke Energy says they tested several areas of the lake; Waterkeeper Alliance says they didn't
- The alliance says the spill could lead to issues for fish and surrounding communities
According to a release from Waterkeeper Alliance, a sample taken on Sept. 21 showed arsenic levels 71 times higher than the NC water quality standard.
Donna Lisenby, global advocacy manager for Waterkeeper Alliance, says the spill is much worse than previous spills from Duke. It's due to flooding on the Cape Fear River after Hurricane Florence.
She said, "The water in the Cape Fear River next to Duke’s Sutton Plant had twice as much arsenic in it as the toxic gray coal ash slurry spilling straight out of the pipe into the Dan River in 2014.”
Duke Energy released a statement saying it's all part of the Waterkeeper's "extreme agenda", and that they've found the levels of arsenic and selenium to be significantly lower than what was in that report.
"We don't want folks to be needlessly concerned about activities around the Sutton facility outside of Wilmington. We have dozens and dozens of water sampling results taken by state-certified technicians, analyzed in state-certified labs," said Paige Sheehan with Duke Energy.
Lisenby says the conflicting reports are because they didn't test the waters in the same places.
"We sampled in different locations. Duke Energy sampled more than a mile downstream. We sampled right where Sutton Lake was discharging into the Cape Fear River from breaches in the Sutton Lake dam," she said.
The Waterkeeper Alliance is worried the coal ash spilling down the river will lead to more issues, including problems for the fish who swim in it or the people who live alongside it.
Duke Energy, however, says the water is safe and they will continue to monitor Sutton Lake as they have been doing for the past two months.