Protecting the Apalachicola River

Published: Thursday, July 10, 2014 at 11:18 AM.

By Dan Tonsmeire
Apalachicola Riverkeeper

Early this year, the picturesque Dan River in North Carolina was hit by a devastating toxic spill that spread 70 miles downstream, poisoning the water and everything in it. Why am I telling you about an environmental disaster which happened hundreds of miles away from us?

Because our own Apalachicola River is vulnerable to the same series of events, and we need to do everything we can to prevent this from happening here.

The hazardous coal ash that fouled the Dan River was stockpiled at a Duke Energy coal-fired power plant site. Like other power companies, Duke Energy stores the hazardous ash that’s left over from burning coal in huge, unlined pits. When a pipe at the Duke Energy plant failed,

140,000 tons of coal ash and contaminated wastewater went into the river.

We have toxic coal ash stockpiled along the Apalachicola, at Gulf Power Company’s Scholz Generating Plant near Sneads. And it is leaking into the river. In June 2013, samples of bright orange contamination leaking out of the pits contained arsenic at levels 300 times the amount considered safe for drinking water.

Besides poisonous arsenic, the coal ash also contains toxics like cadmium, and chromium – well-known carcinogens – as well as aluminum, barium, beryllium, copper, lead, nickel, zinc, selenium, and the neurotoxin mercury.



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