Hog farmers are required by law to report when a breach happens. Deputy Communications Director Bridget Munger said there may be other problem areas, but the staff has had to gather these reports quickly under difficult circumstances. The department’s Wilmington office had no power and the staff in Fayetteville had to be evacuated due to flooding. “We are processing the information as quickly as we can as it is coming in,” Munger said. The department will have a larger report out later.
“When people are in their homes in the muck stage they really need to be protected,” Hamilton said. Bring masks and protective gear. “You don’t want to touch the flood water at all.”
Compounding North Carolina’s troubles the Environmental Protection Agency spokeswoman Maggie Sauerhage says the state has reported that seven of its wastewater treatment facilities are “in non-operational status.”
“This is looking kind of like a worst case scenario situation,” Burdette said. Burdette’s own home has been flooded, his family is safe, but he said he’s concerned for the residents who stayed behind and the ones who will rush in to clean up and in doing so will get the usual cuts and scrapes and get exposed to this water. “There will be ample opportunity to get sick,” he said. “To be really blunt and honest there are a lot of these farms upstream from homes that are flooded or will be flooded and it will wash through people’s homes and cover their belongings. Recovering from a flood is difficult. How do you come back from this I don’t know. It’s pretty terrible.”
Burdette questions why so many farms are built in flood planes. “There is no way to prevent this kind of catastrophe in a hurricane like this with the way we do animal agriculture in North Carolina,” he said.
Coal ash in flood waters
Hamilton is also concerned about the potential health threat of coal ash in the flood waters. “Coal ash will end up in everyone’s homes,” near those areas. It “will end up in the air and as they clean up,” she said.
Coal ash is industrial waster created by coal burning power plants. Coal ash contains the heavy metals including arsenic, lead and mercury which can can carry health risks.
There was a failure at one of the landfills containing coal ash at the Sutton Plant in Wilmington, according to Regan. He said his department was on location inspecting the area. Duke Energy, which owns the property, is also on site doing an analysis.
Duke Energy spokesperson Erin Culbert said the company calculates about 2,000 cubic yards of ash material was displaced from the landfill. The company said it is unclear how much of the water came into contact with the coal ash.
“We don’t have any indication that the ash has gone to the cooling pond,” Culbert said adding that the company will continue to perform water testing. A small amount of ash and water did make it outside the landfill perimeter into an adjacent industrial site and Duke Energy working with the property owner to clean that up. They also detected multiple areas of erosion and are doing the initial repair work.
“We believe this will not have an impact on the public,” Culbert said but they will monitor the situation. Coal ash does contain heavy metals that can be a threat to human health. Culbert said it contains trace elements of contaminants but she said it’s less than 1%.
Flooding with coal ash can make it’s way into streams that contaminate fish people eat and contaminate drinking water.
“That’s what happened after Katrina. They went back and got boils on their legs,” from exposure to sewage Subra said. There are also toxic chemicals that can settle into the soil. “And if you go back and find two inches of yuck on your property so you handle your house and the grass starts growing and you never remove it from your yard. Then every time you mow your grass the sludge dried out will cause a dust and re-exposure over and over.”
News credit : Cnn