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Selenium Implicated in Fish Deaths at Sutton Lake

December 5, 2013
Lake Sutton Mosquito Fish

Photo of a deformed Mosquito Fish, courtesy of Dennis Lemly, via Climate Progress

Dennis Lemly, Associate Professor of Biology at Wake Forest University, authored a report which implicates elevated levels of selenium, a toxin found in coal ash, in deaths and deformities among Sutton Lake’s fish populations.  

Lemly reports to WFAE  “concentrations of selenium in Lake Sutton are 5-10 times the toxic threshold for the beginnings of deformities.” 

Sutton Lake was originally built to cool a coal power plant owned by Duke Energy Progress.  The coal ash found at Sutton Lake is a waste product from this facility.  The power plant closed in November.  Duke Energy Corporation disputes Lemly’s findings.

The fish of Sutton Lake, located near Wilmington, NC, provide a source of food and income to many in the surrounding community.  Lemly estimates that selenium-related deaths among the lake’s fish populations result in a loss of 4.5 million to 7 million dollars each year.

The Southern Environmental Law Center commissioned Lemly’s report.

More information can be found on this important research by following the links below:

Researcher: Duke Energy Ash Ponds Kill Fish Near Wilmington

Study Claims Coal Ash Kills Almost 1M Fish in Sutton Lake

Duke’s Coal Ash Kills, Deforms Fish, Study Says

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