Gov. Cooper talks about possible coal ash leak

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Cape Fear River (Kirsten Gutierrez/WWAY)

BRUNSWICK COUNTY, N.C. (WWAY)- Gov. Roy Cooper is paying attention to the possibility of coal ash being leaked into the Cape Fear River.

“It is deeply concerning. Our Department of Environmental Quality is on it,” Cooper said.

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The dam surrounding Duke Energy’s Sutton Plant has breached. Floodwaters from Cape Fear River ran into a nearby lake and now, there’s a fear coal ash is spilling back into the river on its south side.

“We don’t know the seriousness of the breach or how much, if there’s a dangerous amount in there. We don’t know. They’re working to get there and making sure it’s safe for their crews to get in there, but I know the secretary is working on that,” Cooper said.

Friday, Duke Energy employees were evacuated and the natural gas plant has been shut down until further notice.



Cape Fear River a source for drinking water. If coal ash is consumed, it can cause serious health problems.

“It’s important right now that we make sure people have enough clean water to drink as we’re dealing with emergency situations,” Cooper said.

Gov. Cooper says there are a lot of areas of concern regarding coal ash and that the rules need to be revamped.

Addressing those issues he says, is another challenge that his administration is on top of.

“I think one way to deal with this is to rely more on renewable energy. I think our investment in solar and wind should be strengthened, particularly as we see what has happened,” Cooper said.