- Associated Press - Friday, February 12, 2016

SANFORD, N.C. (AP) - Well water near an abandoned clay mine where Duke Energy wants to store coal ash is already contaminated with heavy metals.

Lee County interim health director Heath Cain said Friday more than a dozen homes within half a mile of the site have been warned not to drink or cook with their well water. Tests found hexavalent chromium and vanadium. Both appear along with mercury and arsenic in coal ash, the toxic waste left after coal is burned to generate electricity.

Lee County officials last fall began testing wells before Duke Energy begins moving about eight million tons of coal ash from storage pits to the abandoned clay mine.

Cain says they don’t know the source of the contamination, which also has shown up in some surface ponds or creeks.

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