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Pig poop lagoons and toxic sludge are real hurricane risks

Digital writers

Wednesday, September 12, 2018, 1:45 PM - Hurricane Florence could create environmental and public health concerns with heavy rains expected to hit areas where toxic waste and animal manure are stored.

According to Bloomberg, coal ash ponds in North Carolina are at risk of spilling over and unleashing toxic waste if they are hit by the storm.

(HURRICANE FLORENCE: Latest updates here)

While Duke Energy Corp. is in the process of cleaning up the ponds, their work won't be complete in time for Florence. State estimates suggest there were 111 million tonnes of coal ash containing metals such as arsenic and mercury in 31 basins across the state in August 2017.

Duke staffers will be monitoring the sites and plan to inspect them after the storm moves out.

Meanwhile, millions of kilograms of animal manure sit in lagoons in hurricane-prone areas.

The waste is stored in lagoons because it's one of the safest way to contain the manure until it's needed to help with crops.

(TRACKING FLORENCE: Stay with The Weather Network online and on T.V. for our exclusive coverage of the storm. Stormhunters Jaclyn Whittal and Mark Robinson will be LIVE in the Carolinas with the latest.

Will Sawyer, an economist at Co-Bank, told Bloomberg the waste can become a problem when there's storm surge and heavy rain, both of which can cause the lagoons to spill over..

If the contaminated water comes into contact with water used for human consumption, the problem worsens.

But Andy Curliss, Chief Executive Officer of the North Carolina Pork Council, says the waste lagoons don't pose much of an environmental risk, adding there was no impact during Hurricane Matthew in 2016.

“If we get more than 25 inches of rain, then we’ll start to be concerned,” he told Bloomberg.

More than 1.5 million people were ordered to evacuate their homes along the U.S. Atlantic coast as Hurricane Florence, a Category 4 storm and the most powerful to menace the Carolinas in nearly three decades, barreled in on Tuesday.

Florence, packing winds of 220 km/h, was expected to grow even stronger before making landfall on Thursday, mostly likely in southeastern North Carolina near the South Carolina border, the National Hurricane Center in Miami said. "We are in the bull's eye," North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper told reporters on Monday.


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