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NORTH CAROLINA Coal Ash Clean-Up Could Be Dangerous for Workers

The largest coal ash cleanup in U.S. history is happening right here in North Carolina, and our Winston-Salem workers’ comp lawyers think the community should know what that means.

According to WXII 12, Duke Energy has made an agreement with the state of North Carolina to excavate nearly 80 million tons of coal ash from six facilities.

Stored coal ash has been known to leak into waterways, spreading its toxins to the living things around it. While the cleanup is great news for the environment and people living around the areas of excavation, as they will no longer have to worry about a coal ash spill, there is a significant amount of concern for the health and safety of those cleaning up the facilities.

Excavating Coal Ash

bulldozer pushing coalOver the course of a little over a decade, Duke Energy will be working on removing the coal ash from six different facilities in North Carolina. Excavation will take place at the Allen, Belews Creek, Cliffside, Marshall, Mayo, and Roxboro sites. The ash will then go into on-site lined landfills, a safer way to store this toxic substance.

Coal ash became an issue to keep an eye on after the 2008 spill in Tennessee, but the state of North Carolina began pressuring Duke Energy to clean up its basins in the state after a 2014 leak. The spill from the energy company covered 70 miles of the Dan River on the state’s border with Virginia.

Is Coal Ash Dangerous?

One has to ask whether the North Carolina coal ash cleanup is dangerous for workers. Coal ash is the product of a coal-fired power plant. It can contain arsenic, selenium, lead, and mercury, and it’s typically stored in pits on the site of these power plants. The Environmental Protection Agency has found that living next to a coal ash disposal site can increase the risk of cancer and other illnesses. In fact, if you live near a wet ash pond and get your drinking water from a well, your risk of getting cancer increases to a 1 in 50 chance.

Workers Still Suffering From 2008 Cleanup

chest x-ray

In the cleanup following the 2008 spill in Tennessee, 900 people were employed to remove the pollution. The spill turned into a fine dust that shifted in the wind and sparkled like glitter. Drivers were shrouded with thick, gray clouds of ash, engulfing their trucks so they could barely see past their hoods. In interviews, workers like these drivers claimed they had a clean bill of health before their jobs started. After spending some time deep in the bowels of ash cleanup, however, they started to suffer from unexpected symptoms.

The workers referred to these symptoms as the “coal ash flu.” They suffered from strange lesions and fish-like skin flaking off in scales. They told the Associated Press that at least 40 workers had died, some gruesomely coughing up blood and collapsing.

Over 200 workers are claiming their contractor exposed them to the harmful substance that caused multiple illnesses and, in some cases, fatalities.

Winston-Salem Workers’ Comp Lawyers Have Your Back

Breathing in harmful substances at a worksite is, unfortunately, a common workers’ compensation claim. Our Winston-Salem workers’ comp lawyers have been helping workers suffering from injuries related to their jobs for years. And if the North Carolina coal ash cleanup proves dangerous for workers, we’ll be there to help if we can! Lewis & Keller is a law firm dedicated to fighting for the rights of injured workers.

If you’ve been injured on the job, our lawyers may be able to help you get the compensation you need and deserve. Call our Winston-Salem office today for a free consultation. We can be reached at 336-765-7777, or you can fill out our online form to get a free case review.