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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The investigation of a coal ash spill across the state has led state regulators to the Cape Fear. They say five more Duke Energy plants have violations, including one in New Hanover County.

The North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources found six Duke Energy plants had not applied for or obtained federally-mandated stormwater permits, including the Sutton Steam Plant on US 421.

“We know that there is groundwater contamination at sutton and at a number of other plants around the state that has the potential to threaten public and private groundwater based drinking water,” said Hope Taylor, executive director of Clean Water for North Carolina.

Federally-mandated stormwater permits regulate stormwater discharge from facilities that have industrial activities. They are permits the Sutton Plant has not applied for.

“With regards to Sutton Plant, this action is only about their failure to get a permit,” DENR spokeswoman Bridget Munger said. “There are other ongoing investigations. We are looking into all coal ash facilities at this point in time.”

Taylor says the Sutton Plant been a problem for years; a problem she says many citizens are now trying to tackle as well.

For a year, several environmental groups have actually been filing citizen suits because of the groundwater contamination from these coal ash ponds calling for them to be moved,” Taylor said.

She says coal ash has contaminants like arsenic, cadmium and lead, which can cause serious health problems if not taken care of.

“Things like cadmium and arsenic can be lethal in high enough concentrations,” Taylor said. “In lower concentrations they can be cancer causing or they can cause serious organ problems.”

Duke Energy spokeswoman Paige Sheehan did not want to do an interview. She says the company will respond to the state’s allegations.

In addition to the Sutton Steam Plant, the site are the Belews Creek Steam Station in Rockingham County, Cliffside Steam Station in Rutherford County, Lee Steam Electric Plant in Wayne County and the Roxboro Steam Electric Power Plant in Person County.

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