State officials ordered Duke Energy in October to supply bottled water to a home near the Asheville power plant’s ash pond that has contaminated well water.
The state also told Duke to install test wells outside the power plant’s boundary to trace the extent of groundwater contamination. Groundwater often flows toward rivers, and the tainted well was between the ash ponds and the French Broad River.
The well, one of five the state sampled, had iron and manganese levels above federal safety standards. A neighboring well also contained safe but unusual levels of thallium, a coal ash element.
Iron, manganese and thallium were also detected in groundwater on the power plant’s property, the state said.
Duke maintains that it’s not yet known how much iron and manganese came from soil and how much from the plant’s ash. Outside consultants will assess groundwater flows and other aspects.
“I don’t think it’s highly likely that we’re going to end up with a high number of contaminated wells” because most have city water, said French Broad Riverkeeper Hartwell Carson. “But across the state, if people dug into it I think they would be surprised at the number of wells impacted.” Bruce Henderson
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