"Hurricane Michael is rambling past coal-ash dumps at Florida power plants, raising concerns that toxins could spill into waterways for the second time in a month in the U.S. Southeast.
Southern Co.’s Lansing Smith power station near Panama City, Florida, has coal-ash storage pits on a lagoon about 8 miles (13 kilometers) from the coast. Michael became the strongest storm to hit the U.S. mainland since 1992, and one of the four most intense in history, with winds that reached 155 miles per hour just as it made landfall Wednesday afternoon in Florida. It brought with it a “life-threatening” storm surge.
Coal ash, a byproduct from burning the fuel in power plants, can carry arsenic, mercury, lead and selenium, though its overall toxicity has long been debated. As many as six coal-ash storage sites are in Michael’s path, including Southern’s Crist station near Pensacola, according to Donna Lisenby of the environmental group Waterkeeper Alliance."