Progress ash pit spills coal waste

September 30, 2010 

Progress Energy has made temporary repairs to a breached ash pit that accidentally released waste from coal-burning power plants near Wilmington.

A giant gash in the 38-year-old waste reservoir Monday released about 10 cubic yards of ash after rain inundated the area around the Sutton Electric Plant.

The Wilmington Star News reported that the breach sent clay and ash cascading down an embankment of the pit's retaining wall. Raleigh-based Progress installed a patch using rocks and soil.

The hole in the ash pit wall is 22 feet across and 9 feet tall. The pit stores 550,000 cubic yards of dry ash, held back by 34-foot walls. But the accident is considered minor and does not pose a threat to public safety, according to the company.

Staff writer John Murawski

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