Progress Energy owns a 376-megawatt coal burning power plant just south of Asheville on the banks of the French Broad River. As part of the coal burning process, the plant produces bottom ash (the ash that falls to the bottom when coal is burned) and fly ash (the ash that is caught by the scrubbers in the smokestack).
Both types of ash are stored in wet ash ponds, which are then held back by two of the nations 49 high hazard coal dams. Coal ash is an environmental concern because it contains an array of toxic metals including arsenic, mercury, manganese, lead, iron, boron, and others.
The environmental concerns at this plant include known groundwater contamination and very high levels of arsenic in a stream on the property. Mercury pollution is a concern here as well, as it is from every coal-fired power plant.
Check out this 60 Minutes report on the problem of coal ash.
The Environmental Integrity Project reports that toxic coal ash dumping on the rise in the South. Learn more here.