Rhiannon Fionn

One of two coal ash ponds at the Riverbend coal plant

The second pond is just under 30 acres. It is the smaller of two unlined, high-hazard coal ash ponds behind Duke Energy's Riverbend coal plant (a.k.a. steam station). It was built in the 1980s.

The two ponds drain into Mountain Island Lake, the main drinking water source for nearly a million people who live in and around Charlotte, N.C.

Coal ash is replete with heavy metals. A quarter -- 30 -- of the known elements can be found in coal and coal ash, including many radioactive elements.

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