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Post-Florence coal ash tests at 1 site yet to raise alarms

October 2, 2018

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina environmental officials say sludge washed from buried coal-ash pits by Hurricane Florence’s flood waters hasn’t polluted a neighboring river with heavy metals at levels concerning to human health.

State officials say water samples taken from three sites near Duke Energy Corp.’s closed H.F. Lee power plant in Goldsboro more than a week after Florence hit the state, found arsenic, mercury and three other metals within acceptable levels.

But a Duke University coal ash expert cautioned Tuesday the initial tests for contamination of the Neuse River don’t tell the full story. Water quality professor Avner Vengosh says that’s because neither the state nor environmentalists have measured pollutants that may have dropped to the river bottom and are likely to linger in the sediment.

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Biesecker reported from Washington, D.C.

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