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Drone used to estimate size of NC coal ash spill

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RALEIGH, NC (AP) _- A team of academic researchers equipped with a drone estimate that about 35 million gallons of coal ash and contaminated wastewater spilled into the Dan River earlier this month.

Wake Forest University researchers released results Tuesday from a study using photos collected by the drone that flew over the Duke Energy coal ash dump that ruptured Feb. 2 in Eden. The scientists used images captured by the drone to create a digital three-dimensional model of the pit, allowing them to calculate the volume of toxic ash that flowed out when a pipe collapsed.

The reported amount equals about 53 Olympic-sized swimming pools, making it the third largest coal ash spill in the nation's history.

The independent measurement is within the broad range that Duke's engineers had initially estimated.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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