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Officials prep toxic waste sites, nuclear power plants ahead of Hurricane Florence’s arrival

September 14, 2018 Visit USA No Comments Email Email

Hurricane Florence could cause an environmental and public health disaster, as heavy rains may overwhelm pits holding toxic waste from power plants, industrial sites or animal-manure lagoons. This toxic waste could wash into homes and threaten drinking water supplies.

North Carolina is a major producer of poultry and hogs, and man-made lagoons that hold manure could be at risk of overflowing into fields and nearby waterways.

In 1999, Hurricane Floyd dumped over 20 inches of rain across eastern North Carolina. The flooding from Floyd caused the mortality of tens of thousands of hogs and pigs and caused waste ponds to overrun, which led to massive water pollution that got into the waterways throughout the state. State taxpayers ended up buying out and closing 43 farms located in floodplains.

To prepare for Florence, the North Carolina Pork Council says its members have pumped down lagoon levels to absorb at least 2 feet of rain. Low-lying farms have been moving their hogs to higher ground.

In this Sept. 24, 1999, photo, employees of Murphy Family Farms along with friends and neighbors, float a group of dead pigs down a flooded road on Rabon Maready’s farm near Beulaville, N.C. The hogs drowned from the floodwaters of the NE Cape Fear River after heavy rains from Hurricane Floyd flooded the area. (AP Photo/Alan Marler, File)

Florence also threatens to release toxic chemicals from hazardous waste sites that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has designated contaminated superfund sites.

The EPA said it is monitoring about nine of these contaminated sites in the hurricane’s path. The agency is performing vulnerability assessments of nine superfund sites along the coasts of North Carolina and South Carolina, CNN reported.

Following Hurricane Harvey, the EPA reported in September 2017 that 13 toxic waste sites in Texas were flooded and experienced possible damage due to the storm. These damaged toxic sites raise numerous health safety concerns.

Several nuclear power reactors in North and South Carolina and Virginia started were prepped for Hurricane Florence on Tuesday. There are 16 nuclear reactors in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia, the states expected to suffer the most damage from Florence.

Duke Energy, which runs reactors at six sites, said operators would begin shutting down nuclear plants at least two hours before hurricane-force winds arrive.

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