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2014-02-05. NC river turns to gray sludge after coal ash spill.

posted Feb 8, 2014, 12:54 PM by Alan Gould

For GSS Energy Use chapter 3. Excerpt: ...Canoe guide Brian Williams dipped his paddle downstream from where thousands of tons of coal ash has been spewing for days into the Dan River, turning the wooden blade flat to bring up a lump of gray sludge. On the riverbank, hundreds of workers at a Duke Energy power plant in North Carolina scrambled to plug a hole in a pipe at the bottom of a 27-acre pond where the toxic ash was stored. ...Duke estimates up to 82,000 tons of ash mixed with 27 million gallons of contaminated water has spilled into the river. Officials at the nation's largest electricity provider say they cannot provide a timetable for when the leak will be fully contained, though the flow has lessened significantly as the pond has emptied. An Associated Press reporter canoed downstream of the spill at the Dan River Steam Station and saw gray sludge several inches deep, coating the riverbank for more than two miles. "...You can't clean this up. It's going to go up the food chain, from the filter feeders, to the fish, to the otters and birds and people. Everything in the ecosystem of a river is connected." ...Coal ash is known to contain a witch's brew of toxic chemicals, including lead, arsenic, mercury and radioactive uranium. ...Twenty miles downstream ...worried fishermen watched ash swirl in the water. A woman dipped her hand into the water and it came out coated slate gray.... http://www.sfgate.com/business/energy/article/Coal-ash-spill-into-NC-river-still-not-contained-5208581.php. Michael Biesecker, Associated Press (link is San Francisco Chronicle).