Study: Heavy metals in Sutton Lake bottom extensive

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By EMERY P. DALESIO Associated Press

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A Duke University scientist says a toxic stew of coal ash has spilled repeatedly from storage pits at a Wilmington power plant into an adjoining lake, and flooding from Hurricane Florence was only the latest example.

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Duke geochemistry and water quality professor Avner Vengosh says in the research published last month that the amounts of lead, cobalt and other heavy metals detected in the lake’s sediment equal or exceed the pollution from the country’s worst coal-ash spill in Kingston, Tennessee, in 2008.

Vengosh’s peer-reviewed findings highlight the risk of thousands of tons of coal ash stored near waterways across the hurricane-threatened Southeastern United States.

Duke Energy owns the lake and the ash. Company spokesman Bill Norton says the lake was designed as a buffer between storage basins and the nearby Cape Fear River. State environmental officials report no significant pollution in the river since Florence.