Coal Ash Ponds Threaten Health of Residents Nearby

Many Americans were reminded of the dangers of coal ash in 2014 when a Duke Energy power plant in North Carolina dumped 39,000 tons of the ash into the Dan River. Coal ash is the waste generated by coal-fueled power generation plants. Opinions are sharply divided on the toxicity of coal ash, which contains several heavy metals known to cause birth defects, neurological problems, cancer and other health issues. The metals include lead, arsenic and selenium. Advocates paid by the coal industry claim that the ash is so safe you can eat it. But residents living near the open storage ponds where the industry dumps its waste coal ash don’t see it that way.

Coal plants in the United States generate 140 million tons of waste ash every year. Most of the coal ash is disposed of by mixing it with water and then pumping it into big holes in the ground — called impoundments. Of the 1,100 coal ash impoundments in this country, nearly half are unlined. That means there is nothing to prevent the heavy metals contained in the coal ash from seeping down through the ground into the groundwater. This is a particular problem for Americans whose drinking water comes from a well as opposed to a publicly operated water pipeline.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has verified that every state in which coal ash impoundments are located has experienced water contamination incidents caused by the coal ash ponds. An EPA risk assessment reportedly warns that residents within a mile of an unlined coal-ash impoundment have a 1 in 50 risk of developing arsenic-related cancer. Unfortunately, over 1.5 million American children live close to a coal ash impoundment facility.

Belews Creek, North Carolina Resident Living Near Duke Energy Coal Ash Impoundment Develops Brain Tumor, Discovers Drinking Water Contaminated

Residents of Belews Creek, North Carolina are particularly troubled by the health risks of living near coal ash waste ponds. That’s because Duke Energy maintains a 342-acre coal-ash pond in Belews Creek to hold all the coal ash generated by the company’s 2,240-megawatt power plant next door. Built 40 years ago, the coal ash impoundment now holds more than four billion gallons of coal ash mixed with water to create a slurry and then pumped into the unlined Belews Creek pit.

One Belews Creek resident is now in remission from brain cancer. Her friends and neighbors are battling other forms of cancer and health challenges. She lives only a few hundred yards from Duke Energy’s coal ash impoundment. An inspection of her home’s drinking water revealed elevated levels of radon, a carcinogen known to be present in coal ash. Local environmental officials have instructed the Belews Creek resident not to drink, cook or wash with her well water. She is just one of over 1,700 Belews Creek residents reportedly living within three miles of the coal ash waste pit.

Contact Waters Kraus Paul & Siegel to Learn More About Filing a Birth Defect Lawsuit

The lawyers at Waters Kraus Paul & Siegel have been representing people who have been sickened by toxic exposures for more than twenty years. Do you have a child suffering from a birth defect or cancer as a result of exposure to coal ash, pesticides or other toxic substances? If so, call us at 800.226.9880 to speak with one of our birth defect lawyers, like Charles Siegel and Kyla Cole in our Texas office, to learn more about how we can assist you.

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