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Coal Ash Leaks Have Been Reported Along Florence's Path Through North Carolina

Duke Energy Corporation has reported two coal ash leaks near a retired power plant in Wilmington, North Carolina, Reuters reports.

Both leaks were reported over the weekend, the first on Saturday and the second late Sunday, at a landfill on the site of the company's Sutton Power Plant.

As Pacific Standard noted last week, concerns arose before Hurricane Florence made landfall about the piles of toxic waste from coal-burning power plants in the storm's path, which, if flooded, could contaminate rivers and drinking waters:

Environmentalists warn that many of the area's 71 coal ash impoundments are located near rivers, predicted to swell with Florence's storm surge. Duke Energy Corporation was ordered to clean these ponds up two years ago ... when the Category 1 Hurricane Matthew struck in 2016, one cooling pond ruptured, and a river spilled over into a coal ash dump.

According to Bloomberg, it's unknown how much coal ash was released by the second leak, but Duke has estimated that 2,000 cubic yards of coal ash had spilled in the first incident.

Both the Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Emergency Management and Duke have maintained that none of the spilled material has reached the water supply. "We believe most of the material was contained on-site, and we certainly have confidence that there's no impact to the environment or public health and safety at this time," David Fountain, Duke's North Carolina president, told Bloomberg.

The cause of the leaks is still being investigated.