Toxic Waste Spill in North Carolina: Coal Ash (Part 1)

Coal ash, which contains many of the world’s worst carcinogens, is what’s left over when coal is burnt for electricity. An estimated 113 million tons of coal ash are produced annually in the US, and stored in almost every state — some of it literally in people’s backyards. With very little government oversight and few safeguards in place, toxic chemicals have been known to leak from these storage sites and into nearby communities, contaminating drinking water and making residents sick.

On February 2, 2014, up to 39,000 tons of coal ash and 27 million gallons of contaminated water spilled out into the Dan River in North Carolina after a pipe broke underneath a coal ash pond at a Duke Energy power plant. The environmental disaster thrust Duke Energy, the country’s largest electricity company, into the spotlight, revealing a history of violations and inadequate oversight of ponds at all of its plants across the state.

In part one, VICE News travels to North Carolina to visit a river that’s been poisoned with arsenic from a nearby Duke Energy site, speak with a resident who has found toxic heavy metals in her drinking water, and question a Duke Energy spokesperson about the power company’s policies.

Watch “Showdown in Coal Country” –

Watch “Petcoke: Toxic Waste in the Windy City” –

Read “Humans Are Destroying the Environment at a Rate Unprecedented in Over 10,000 Years” –

Read “The Economic Cost of Carbon Pollution Is Much Greater Than Estimated, Say Stanford University Researchers” –

Read “The EPA Tightened Rules on Coal Waste, But Not Enough, Say Environmentalists” –

Subscribe to VICE News here:

Check out VICE News for more:

Follow VICE News here:
More videos from the VICE network:

39 thoughts on “Toxic Waste Spill in North Carolina: Coal Ash (Part 1)

  1. Burning coal for the purpose of generating electricity just doesn't make sense anymore. Environmentally or economically.

    Natural gas, while not ideal, is far cleaner and easier to modify a plant to use. Nuclear is a better step yet, with today's safe nuclear plant, so long as the plant is in a safe location (not seismically active and not subject to crazy weather). Just build the plants where it's safe, and transmit the electricity to where it's needed. As for the waste, we need to get politicians out of it, and let scientists determine the safest location for a deep underground repository. Politics continues to be in the way of a brighter future.

    Hopefully battery technology improves enough and becomes cheap enough to make intermittent renewables more practical as a significant player in the energy sector. Or we'll all get lucky, and fusion power will be mastered, but I'm not holding my breath.

  2. Coal ash is a useful product for cement and other industrial products and building products as well as de icing for the roads. And we need the coal fire energy. Coal ash is a valuable byproduct of coal energy.

  3. Glad I live in australia. America seems to have so many man made problems. We have our own and we are a.smaller country but if America wants to be great again more really needs to be done.

  4. Our governments are using coal ash in the Chemtrails the long streaming trails behind aircraft that you see. Not condensation trails chemtrails. We breathe it in our kidneys and liver clean it up. It's gone. The people end up dying from different diseases cancer problem solved. 🇺🇸

  5. aint there away to clean the water? like boiling or filter or both or something to clean it up so u use it?? where ppl like this go with there lifes?? or is it fact like the lady said ther not enough knowing bout to fact the heath problems that theyll can fix the water problems for both problems? we in 21st century why havnt we figure what to do with the waste from coal??

  6. In retrospect, Hurricane Florence’s floods of September 2018 made sure that the contents of these ponds entered the rivers and surrounding flooded areas where humans live. I’m sure the cancer rates nearby will skyrocket in decades to come.

    Plus the Trump Administration and Republican Senate made it legal to allows coal byproducts to be dumped into freshwater streams.

    The EPA literally no longer cares about protecting the environment any longer.

    It was a burden for corporations to responsibility dispose of their waste. So now they legally don’t have to.

    Welcome back to the Industrial Age.

    Hexavalent Chromium causes severe cancer, birth defects, neurological diseases, and numerous other health problems.

    Erin Brockovich would love to take this company on for poisoning the public.

  7. The next step will be Fema camps where you become a guinea pig for testing by force. Since you didn't volunteer for it. It can be made mandatory. They have ways of forcing their will on others. And they flex their muscles all the time. Then they shut down your local job market to ensure that they have employees. Hence the job crisis that has plagued America for years. Then they'll turn your neighborhood into a meth dump to cover up the birth defects caused by industrial toxins. Those are the common tactics aside from calling everyone a bunch of brainless red necks who drink too much. And that's why we need them to set us straight. Greed kills and is accompanied by a lot of lies.

  8. Mmmm hexavalent chromium! What psychopathic people and disfunctional energy models. How does the Duke energy lady keep a straight face? Letting big business regulate themselves, that's the American way…and how's that working out?

  9. Oh WoW ! These damn industrial company's kill everything around them. People do not matter. Its so sickening. And they are all the same. That happened here in California. Well something of the sort. With same effects on people. That Erin Brockovich movie covered it

  10. Conspiracy to destroy the land and 'cut the people off' from it. Coal ash ponds, nuclear power plants, mountaintop mining, oil tankers, oil pipelines, 5g, etc. The land and water is being poisoned wholesale. The whole setup is designed to pollute and destroy the land and leave the people with no fit or clean place to live anymore. Bit by bit people are being pushed off the land and herded like livestock into conditions unfit for animals.

  11. Today Friday Sept 21 Wral stated hurricane Florence's floodwaters breached several parts of eastern dam at Duke Energy plant (1,100 acre) reservior in Wilmington and the coal ash from adjacent dump could flow into near by Cape Fear River. The water from the Neuse River has completely flooded the tree covered coal ash basin at Duke's HFLee plant near Goldsboro. Just 3yrs ago you all were doing a story on this.

  12. The Duke Energy spokesperson claimed that enviro advocacy groups weren't always comprehensively candid, in that they only expressed a single point of view ~ Corporate unself-conscious hypocrisy at its finest.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.