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At least four leaks, appearing to originate from coal ash ponds, were found Thursday at Mountain Island Lake and Lake Wylie, according to the Catawba Riverkeepers Foundation.
These leaks from the ash ponds are unpermitted, unhealthy and illegal. They are of particular concern because the leaks discharge into drinking water reservoirs and because Duke Power does not test the leaking material for hazardous constituents, officials said.
Catawba Riverkeeper notified DENR and EPA the leaks, which they believe are the result of the storage of coal ash waste in unlined lagoons with earthen dams.
At multiple points on beaches and banks of the lakes, a brownish-orange liquid and bubbling water can be seen seeping through exposed sediment, the Riverkeepers said.
Samples of the leaking liquids were sent to sent to a certified laboratory for testing, and common elements associated with coal ash waste were found, including barium, chronium, lead, selenium, and arsenic, the report states.
Mountain Island Lake is the primary source of drinking water for approximately 860,000 people in Charlotte, Gastonia, Huntersville, Pineville, Mint Hill, and Matthews. Lake Wylie is the primary source for citizens of Belmont, Ft. Mill, Tega Cay and Rock Hill.
The presence of contaminants in seeps around the ash ponds is not particularly surprising, the Catawba Riverkeepers say, because NC DENR has allowed Duke Energy to use the opposite side of the River as the compliance boundary for groundwater contamination.
A group of Riverkeepers, including Catawba Riverkeeper, is currently challenging the compliance boundaries in a case before the North Carolina Environmental Management Commission.
The hearing is scheduled to take place on December 3.
For additional information about the ash ponds, click here.