More letters sent to Dukeville residents; Duke to provide water

Published 1:02 pm Monday, April 27, 2015

An additional 12 residences near Buck Steam Plant this weekend received letters from the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, most of which advised not to drink well water.

As a result, Duke Energy has committed to provide water on a temporary basis to families, according to a spokesperson.

This morning Tad Helmstetler, of the Rowan County Health Department, confirmed he received carbon copies of additional letters sent to homes near Buck Steam Station. Helmstetler said the letters included names of families that were not listed on letters distributed one week ago. All 12 of the letters are dated April 22.

As a result of letters advising not to drink water, a Duke Energy representative said in an email the company would be providing water to residents near Buck Steam Station and answer any questions. The emailed statement, however, continued to say that Duke’s facility was not responsible for any contamination.

“We know this information has been confusing, and we are eager to talk with these neighbors to answer any questions they have,” said a statement from Duke Spokeswoman Erin Culbert. “We also are offering to provide alternative water to these residences on a temporary basis until the groundwater studies are complete in a few months. Neighbor wells near Buck so far have not shown any elevated levels of boron, which is a key indicator of groundwater potentially impacted by coal ash. We have no indication that plant operations have influenced neighbors’ well water based on results to date, but we want to give people peace of mind and offer water in the meantime while we learn more.”

Of the 12 letters, only one states that well water is safe. The other 11 show exceedances for vanadium and hexavalent chromium. Both elements can occur in nature and coal ash. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration considers both toxic.

Residences on Long Ferry, Dukeville and Leonard roads are listed on the letters.

The letters stem from mandatory testing included in the 2014 Coal Ash Management Act. Tests were required to be conducted on wells within 1,000 feet of coal ash ponds across North Carolina. As of Monday morning, 34 tests had been conducted on wells within Rowan County. Of the tests, 22 letters were delivered April 18 and 12 were delivered April 25, according to local residents.

This article will be updated as more information becomes available.