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Duke Energy operations hit by coal ash on NC river

Operations at Duke Energy (DUK) were hit by Hurricane Florence as well as a dam breach near one of its power plants in North Carolina. In the aftermath of the breach, nearly 7 million tons of coal ash contained in its waste pits was sent flowing into the nearby Cape Fear River. There are chances of a contamination as the coal ash contains mercury, cadmium, and arsenic that are harmful to health.

On Saturday, the company said it had secured additional construction materials to repair the breach, but the floodwaters have reportedly hindered this work. The electric power company stated that it is safe to repair the breach only when the floodwaters recede. Meanwhile, Duke has started repairing the lined landfill where most of the ashes are being disposed.

Duke had, earlier on Sunday, confirmed that the initial water tests on the Sutton Plant in Wilmington showed little impact in the water quality at Cape Fear River. The river water levels near the site have started to recede, but the company still expects the level to be high for days.

Duke is, meanwhile, focusing on repair plans to conserve the water in the Sutton Lake, while the inspection is underway at the natural gas plant.

The hurricane has hit its operations worst at North Carolina, President David Fountain told CNBC. Numerous power outages happened in various North Carolina cities and Duke believes Jacksonville, Morehead City, and New Bern will likely face power cuts till Monday.

Moody’s Analytics has estimated property damages and disruption to be at the moderate end of $17 billion to $22 billion range. Late last week, Duke said power-cuts have impacted nearly 49,000 homes and businesses.

The floodwaters have also hindered Duke Energy’s 625-megawatt natural gas plant, which remained shut and caused a coal ash landfill to collapse partially.

Duke shares opened lower on Friday and inched down 2.58% in the afternoon after the news broke out. The stock ended Friday’s regular session down 0.99% at $79.82 on the NYSE. It has fallen 4.15% so far this year. At the premarket session on Monday, Duke stock is neutral.

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