This week the flood waters from Hurricane Florence should begin receding. Those waters contain more waste today than they did two weeks ago. Some of that waste could create environmental problems.
The North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services says more than 3.4 million poultry and an estimated 5,500 hogs died in flooding. Their waste pools poured into rivers. The carcasses are rotting in flooded barns. Cape Fear River Keeper Kemp Burdette says it’s not a good situation.
“Pollution associated with factory farms. Everything from raw, untreated swine waste. Raw, untreated poultry waste, dead animals. The contents of barns that I have seen from the air kind of leaking out into flood waters. And the other thing is coal ash from the significant failure, multiple failures and multiple places at the Sutton Plant.”
Duke Energy says it’s possible that toxic coal ash got into the river from its storage location at Sutton, but states that the water quality has not been harmed.
In addition, the state’s Department of Environmental Quality tells WHQR that the coal ash pond dikes are all reported stable. The DEQ inspected the site on Sunday. DEQ staff from several divisions and EPA staff will continue to inspect the Sutton site this week, and take water samples.
In an email to WHQR, the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority says its Sweeney Water Treatment Plant is effective at eliminating the additional waste load currently found in the Cape Fear River, and removes biological contamination.