VICE News has published a two part documentary series looking at the issues surrounding the estimated 113 million tonnes of waste ash produced by coal fired power stations in the U.S. each year.
According to the film, coal ash contains many of the world's worst carcinogens and is stored in huge quantities in almost every state in the U.S. some of it literally in people's backyards.
The documentary said that with very little government oversight and few safeguards in place, toxic chemicals have been known to leak from these storage sites and into nearby communities, contaminating drinking water and making residents sick.
One key event examined by the film makers is the 2 February 2014 spill into the Dan River in North Carolina of up to 39,000 tons (35,000 tonnes) of coal ash and 27 million gallons (102 million litres) of contaminated water after a pipe broke underneath a coal ash pond at a Duke Energy power plant.
In part one, VICE News travels to North Carolina to visit a river that’s been poisoned with arsenic from a nearby Duke Energy site, speak with a resident who has found toxic heavy metals in her drinking water, and question a Duke Energy spokesperson about the power company’s policies.
In the final part of the series, VICE News heads to Pennsylvania, home to the largest coal ash pond in the country, which is said to leak dangerous pollutants into the community.
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