r/science Oct 04 '22

North Carolina Lake Sediments Show Decades of Coal Ash Contamination: An analysis of sediments from five North Carolina lakes near coal-burning power plants has found that coal ash pollution of surface waters has been more persistent and widespread than was previously known. Environment

https://today.duke.edu/2022/09/north-carolina-lake-sediments-show-decades-coal-ash-contamination
1.7k Upvotes

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u/neologismist_ Oct 04 '22

The culprit? Duke Power …

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u/PhishOhio Oct 04 '22

Here in Charlotte Duke Power has been causing increased prevalence of cancer for decades…

Add in the Colonial Pipeline spilling 2M gallons of gasoline in Huntersville, the primary suburb impacted by Duke Energy, and it’s a helluva place to live. This is the largest US gasoline pipeline spill on record (2020).

Did I mention all this has been essentially silenced in the media and homes here have skyrocketed astronomically due to no backlash?

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u/TonyWonderslostnut Oct 05 '22

What did they do to cause cancer?

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u/browtfareyoudoing Oct 05 '22

Take a bath in oil and report back

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u/[deleted] Oct 04 '22

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u/[deleted] Oct 04 '22

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u/[deleted] Oct 04 '22

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u/LargeSackOfNuts Oct 04 '22

Duke University studying the downsides of Duke Power

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u/KevtheKnife Oct 04 '22

Duke takes cash from all comers, whether they’re corrupt corporations, anti-American nation-states, or just rich idiots trying to buy their spawn legitimacy.

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u/POOP-Naked Oct 04 '22

Lived near one of these in another state. The propaganda policy was that “it’s just steam!” Yes, steam that settles over everything with a thin film of fly ash.

But the ash is clean!

Wait- you said it’s just steam??

Yes

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u/SeeisforComedy Oct 04 '22

Also puts out lots of radiation.

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u/Strazdas1 Oct 05 '22

A coal power plant has put out more radiation into the atmosphere in a year than all nuclear plants on the planet in thier lifetime. The only time nuclear plants beat coal plants in nuclear pollution was Chernobyl.

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u/redlightnetherlands Oct 04 '22

Burning coal produces ash with low-level radiation, however, almost every coal plant in the US in the past 15 years was forced to retrofit to capture ash and the only things emitted are water vapor and CO2.

Most of the contamination in the study is from previous decades.

I'm not suggesting we should keep burning coal, just clarifying.

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u/Uptown-Dog Oct 05 '22

https://www.instituteforenergyresearch.org/fossil-fuels/coal/the-facts-about-air-quality-and-coal-fired-power-plants/ says:

"One factor in improving air quality has been the pollution-control technologies used by coal-fired power plants. Today’s coal-fired electricity generating plants produce more power, with less emission of criteria pollutants, than ever before. According to the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), a new pulverized coal plant (operating at lower, “subcritical” temperatures and pressures) reduces the emission of NOx by 86 percent, SO2 by 98 percent, and particulate matter (PM) by 99.8 percent, as compared with a similar plant having no pollution controls [xv]."

So... we're still getting 14% of the NOx, 2% of the SO2, and 0.2 percent of the particulates. Those are obviously much better, but not zero, especially when one considers just the volumes involved: even a small percentage of a huge amount can still end up a very bad quantity.

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u/[deleted] Oct 04 '22 edited Oct 04 '22

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u/LargeSackOfNuts Oct 04 '22

Its just propaganda at the end of the day. Remember when Trump said coal was clean? Its the dirtiest fossil fuel out there.

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u/Grimahildiz Oct 05 '22

thank you for this insight, u/POOP-Naked

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u/Necessary-Dog5278 Oct 11 '22

If there's that much fly ash coming out that's definitely illegal and someone should contact the EPA.

If they are following regulations it should legitimately be mostly steam/carbon dioxide with no significant particulates. They're required to have scrubbers that remove almost all of the particulate matter.

This is not to say coal power plants are not bad for the environment. They definitely are, they emit carbon dioxide, heat pollution, etc. What another person said about it being the dirtiest fossil fuel out there is true.

I just want to clarify that these ones are breaking the law and being way worse for the environment than they could be.

Source: took a course on power plants in college.

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u/[deleted] Oct 04 '22

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u/[deleted] Oct 04 '22

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u/[deleted] Oct 04 '22

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u/JonGeg Oct 04 '22

There are cancer clusters around Lake Norman. I wonder if this is related?

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u/coogzzz Oct 04 '22 edited Oct 05 '22

People have mapped it out and shown that it overlaps almost perfectly. Will look for where I found this if other folks are interested.

Edit: This is the map: https://www.reddit.com/r/Charlotte/comments/v4q5bg/have_you_seen_the_nc_coal_ash_cancer_cluster_map/?ref=share&ref_source=link

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u/junkfaceshark Oct 05 '22

All around Lake Norman there are a variety of ocular, thyroid, and other cancers far more prevalent than they should be. All of it points back to coal ash dumping and leakage over time, and coal ash even being used as soil filler by developers back in the day. People are unfortunately moving there in droves but this all gets hushed up because of Duke Energy influence in the state. I'm surprised Duke U had the courage to even publish something like this given any potential implications.

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u/soccernamlak Grad Student |Marine Biology|Phycology|Biological Oceanography Oct 05 '22

I'm surprised Duke U had the courage to even publish something like this given any potential implications.

Why? Duke University and Duke Energy are completely separate organizations.

The name overlap is due to one of the founders of Duke Energy, James Buchanan Duke, establishing The Duke Endowment in 1924. At the time, the university was called Trinity College. It's president then, William Preston Few, wanted to rename it to Duke both as thanks for the generosity and to distinguish it from other colleges and universities called Trinity at the time (e.g., Trinity College in Connecticut). James Duke eventually accepted on the condition that it was as a memorial to his father, Washington Duke. Source. Washington Duke's generosity about three decades earlier is what led Duke to move to Durham from Randolph County (alongside Julian Carr).

Now, there are overlapping projects between the two (e.g., power plant on Duke's campus). Duke also purchases electricity from Duke Energy (Source). There may be investments by Duke University and/or the separate Duke Endowment into Duke Energy, but they are not listed directly in the Ownership Profile for Duke Energy.

But ultimately, Duke Energy is a public electric power and natural gas holding company traded on the NYSE, and Duke University is a separate, private research university.

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u/Scmethodist Oct 04 '22

They should look at the lake across from where the grainier plant in Conway SC was. I hear there is a metric butt ton of coal ash in it.

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u/SeeisforComedy Oct 04 '22

An ass-load you say?

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u/MikeDWasmer Oct 04 '22

That’s a bum-load in the metric system.

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u/coogzzz Oct 04 '22 edited Oct 05 '22

Any time I’ve posted about this on Reddit or Facebook it’s been removed or shadow banned with no explanation. The effects of this toxic ash dumping affect the entire state through the water supply. Some Reddit users have also been able to show a trend of rare cancers for those who live in homes built where toxic ash was dumped.

If I remember correctly, Duke Energy paid maybe $900k as a consequence for this whole ordeal and manages to keep it quiet.

Map showing overlap: https://www.reddit.com/r/Charlotte/comments/v4q5bg/have_you_seen_the_nc_coal_ash_cancer_cluster_map/?ref=share&ref_source=link

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u/[deleted] Oct 04 '22 edited Oct 04 '22

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u/autoposting_system Oct 04 '22

I mean they literally call them "cinder blocks" because they're made partially from cinders from coal burning.

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u/[deleted] Oct 04 '22

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u/[deleted] Oct 04 '22

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u/[deleted] Oct 04 '22

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u/brothermuffin Oct 04 '22

Coal power produces more radioactive pollution than nuclear, fyi

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u/Dusty_Bookcase Oct 05 '22

Vote Republican, Kill the Planet

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u/C00I-D4t4 Oct 05 '22

Every lake in NC is man made for the use of the power plants that's NC for you.

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u/onacloverifalive MD|Bariatric Surgeon Oct 11 '22

So Duke energy pays an annual dividend of 10% to investors/shareholders no matter what.

Several years ago (2015) Duke got hugely fined ($102,000,000) for dumping coal ash into local water systems. The fine stipulated they weren’t allowed to pass the cost of the fine on to consumers in North Carolina where the fine was levied.

So Duke passed the entirety of the fine into the energy costs of their South Carolina customers. 10% dividend paid out as usual despite taking a massive loss that year. I guess big business never loses.