Hurricane Florence floodwaters have breached a cooling lake dam at Duke Energy’s Sutton Plant in Wilmington, North Carolina, releasing water into the Cape Fear River and flooding the footprint of the fuel plant on the website, which has been shut down. 

The firm’s newest replace alerts mounting troubles on the website, the place Duke Energy shuttered the three-unit, 575-MW coal-fired Sutton Plant in 2013 and demolished it in 2017. A 625-MW pure fuel combined-cycle plant was opened on the website in 2013.

The facility additionally homes two coal ash basins—one with a 50-acre pond, in-built 1971, and the opposite with an 82-acre pond, in-built 1984—and a lined landfill that’s beneath development. Results of an annual inspection performed by Amec Foster Wheeler this June confirmed the coal ash dam buildings adjust to regulatory requirements. 

Before Hurricane Florence dumped greater than 30 inches of rainfall on the plant this week—which Duke Energy famous was a “historic” quantity—the corporate was working to excavate ash from the Sutton basins to absolutely lined services offsite and onsite. On Friday, the Cape Fear River was nonetheless rising and anticipated to crest on Sunday. 

Overview of the Sutton Plant. Courtesy: Duke Energy

Overview of the Sutton Plant. Courtesy: Duke Energy

September 15: A Slope Failure at a Coal Ash Landfill

The firm’s issues concerning the storm’s flooding influence on the Sutton plant have ramped up since Saturday, September 15, when it first recognized a slope failure and erosion at one part of the landfill. That failure displaced about 2,000 cubic yards of soil and coal ash, the “majority” of which was collected in a fringe ditch and haul roads that surrounds the landfill. 

As an assurance extensively scoffed at by environmental teams, the utility in a press release on Saturday additionally mentioned: “Coal ash is non-hazardous, and the corporate doesn’t imagine this incident poses a danger to public well being or the surroundings. The firm is conducting environmental sampling as effectively.” It added that website personnel are managing the scenario and can proceed with a full restore as climate circumstances enhance.

September 19: No Impact Yet on Lake or River

On September 19 the corporate issued one other assertion saying that water samples collected from numerous areas demonstrated that coal ash launched from the landfill had not impacted water high quality at Sutton Lake, the 1,100-acre artifical reservoir  that was in-built 1972 to provide cooling water to Sutton Plant. It famous, nevertheless, that website inspections had discovered cenospheres—hole beads comprised of alumina and silica which might be a byproduct of coal combustion—in Sutton Lake.

The firm mentioned that it had managed water ranges contained in the cooling lake earlier than, throughout, and after the storm. At the identical time, it mentioned it continued to watch water ranges from the Cape Fear River, which flows close to Sutton Lake. 

On that day the corporate additionally mentioned that it was working to cleanup the supplies launched within the aftermath of the slope failure recognized on September 15. “As the corporate has beforehand reported, a really small quantity of ash made its manner off plant property to an adjoining industrial website, which is being cleaned up,” it mentioned. 

Duke Energy on September 19 said water and approximately 2,000 cubic yards of soil and ash eroded from the Sutton landfill. “Much of the nonhazardous material, which would fill about two-thirds of an Olympic-sized swimming pool, was captured in a perimeter ditch around the landfill, and cleanup work has already begun,” it said. Courtesy: Duke Energy

Duke Energy on September 19 mentioned water and roughly 2,000 cubic yards of soil and ash eroded from the Sutton landfill. “Much of the nonhazardous materials, which might fill about two-thirds of an Olympic-sized swimming pool, was captured in a fringe ditch across the landfill, and cleanup work has already begun,” it mentioned. Courtesy: Duke Energy

September 20: Cape Fear River Overtops Sutton Lake

On September 20 the corporate reported, citing aerial images, that the rising Cape Fear River was overtopping the cooling lake. It additionally mentioned erosion was obvious on the inside slope of the berm, which is protected by a layer of compacted soil and cement. The firm additionally opened two giant 24-inch valves…

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