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Legislators Call For Action on Lake Sutton

WILMINGTON — New Hanover County Democrats in the state legislature laid out a plan Tuesday to respond to the recent Duke University study indicating long-running coal ash contamination of Lake Sutton from ash storage pits at the former coal-fired power plant north of the city.

The study announced Monday found levels of coal ash compounds in the lake’s bottom sediment were comparable to levels found in stream sediments after the 2008 Tennessee Valley Authority coal ash spill into the Emory and Clinch rivers and the 2014 Dan River spill near Eden, indicating a long-term process of unreported, unmonitored spills.

Sen. Harper Peterson and Rep. Deb Butler, both Democrats, held a press conference Tuesday at the lake, presenting a seven-step response plan, the StarNews reported. Among the steps are putting signs at the lake about the contamination and the potential public health risk, further analysis of the study findings, seeking temporary restrictions on public access to the lake, requesting Duke Energy’s internal documents related to storage and spills and seeking a determination on whether the utility violated the federal Clean Water Act.

Duke Energy responded earlier this week, saying the study results were no surprise and were proof that the company’s wastewater facility worked as intended.

A meeting is set for Tuesday in Raleigh where Duke geochemistry and water quality professor Avner Vengosh will present his findings to state officials.

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This report was compiled from published reports.