SIU Professor Reacts to Coal Ash Spill in North Carolina

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By Evie Allen

CARBONDALE -- Environmentalists say a spill of coal ash in the southeast shows that more safeguards are needed surrounding the material.

Thousands of gallons of ash from a former power plant has leaked into a nearby river. The water is now a gray sludge in some spots. Coal ash contains potential toxins including arsenic, lead and mercury. Environmental groups say the contamination will slowly suffocate fish and may affect drinking water for nearby towns. The state and power company say tests show the water is still safe.
 
SIU professor Tomas Wiltowski says it's a dangerous spill, that can happen anywhere. He says It depends on what coal mines are doing with the ash. Storing the ash in longer pipelines away from the mines could mean a chance something could go wrong. But that is not necessarily the case locally.
 
"The pumps are not really far away from the coal mines so, it doesn't require long pipelines. Of course, when you have the longer pipeline there's always the possibility of something could go wrong," says Wiltowski.
 
He says he will continue to keep an eye on how engineers deal with the spill. He would like to see them come up with new ways to store ash and to use the coal ash.
 
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