The N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources said Friday that a pipe at Duke Energy’s Cliffside Steam Station in Rutherford County is leaking groundwater. DENR was notified about the discharge Thursday afternoon.
Via the Associated Press:
State officials said the corrugated metal pipe is heavily corroded and taking in groundwater, which is draining out at a rate of more than 1,100 gallons a day. Duke staff is sampling the potentially contaminated groundwater coming from the pipe for toxic metals associated with coal ash.
The pipe empties into rocks a few feet from the Broad River, but the agency said there is no indication the flow has reached the waterway.
The pipe that collapsed at Duke Energy’s Dan River plant, dumping 39,000 tons of coal ash into the river, was also made of corrugated metal.
“Fortunately, we observe no environmental impacts from this discharge,” said Tom Reeder, director of the N.C. Division of Water Resources. “However, we need to emphasize increased attention to all aspects of the infrastructure at Duke Energy’s facilities across the state.”
From the DENR press release:
Attempts to repair the pipe on Thursday were unsuccessful. Friday morning, Duke Energy personnel began containing and collecting the discharging water into collection tanks. The company plans to pump and haul the collected water from the collection tanks to a treatment pond on site twice a day until a permanent remedy has been implemented.
In compliance with permit conditions, Duke Energy personnel on Thursday collected flow data and took samples of discharge water to be tested for total suspended solids, oil, grease and pH. Friday morning, Duke Energy staff also gathered discharge water samples to be tested for total metals, total dissolved solids, nutrients, total suspended solids, turbidity and sulfates.
The basin where the pipe is located is designed to hold comingled stormwater and wastewater overflow from an adjacent basin during extreme storm events. The last time the basin was used for emergency storage was in 2005 when a heavy storm brought 9 inches of rain to the area.
In this case, corroded areas of the pipe allowed groundwater to enter and move up through the pipe to the discharge point, where water was discharged and infiltrated the soil.
Representatives from DENR’s Dam Safety Program plan to be on site early next week for a scheduled dam safety inspection and will also have an opportunity to examine the structure.