September 17, 2018 / 8:16 PM / 2 years ago

Second ash leak reported at retired Duke plant in Florence's wake

NEW YORK, Sept 17 (Reuters) - A second coal ash leak was reported from a Duke Energy Corp landfill near the company's retired Sutton Power Plant in Wilmington, North Carolina, following storm Florence, environmental officials said on Monday.

One leak was reported from the shuttered plant on Saturday and a second occurred late on Sunday, said Reggie Cheatham, director of the Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Emergency Management, speaking on a conference call.

The cause of the release is unknown and still being investigated, he said. Coal ash can contaminate water.

"We are repairing it and we continue to be confident that the public and the environment are well protected," said Candice Knezevic, a spokeswoman for Duke.

In the earlier release, the site lost enough material to fill about two-thirds of an Olympic-sized pool, the company said in a statement.

Deeper flooding loomed in the hours and days ahead from rivers in the Carolinas swollen by Tropical Depression Florence, a onetime hurricane that has killed 23 people, even if rain-weary residents got a brief glimpse of sunshine on Monday.

Officials had warned before the storm that the rains could risk tainting waterways with murky coal ash and toxic hog waste.

Reporting by Jessica Resnick-Ault; Editing by Peter Cooney

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