The stories of residents living near Duke Energy’s Belews Creek coal-fired power plant in Stokes County, N.C., center on the resilience of a close-knit community — but they also reveal a toxic legacy of decades of coal pollution.

People like Annie Brown have raised their children and grandchildren here, largely unaware of the toll coal ash and other forms of pollution can take on their families’ health.

Coal ash, which contains carcinogens and toxins such as arsenic and mercury, is often stored in massive, unlined pits near rivers and streams used for recreation or drinking water.

According to 2010 census data, 9,380 people live within 5 miles of the Belews Creek coal plant. There are more than 1,000 coal ash dumps around the U.S.

Learn more:

TAKE ACTION: N.C. residents, be sure to contact your state senator and ask them to support stronger regulations on toxic coal ash.

Written by miriam

Striving to be "The Infinite Probability Drive within the Heart of Gold," Miriam's interests include accidentally purchasing everything in purple, going deep on the frisbee field, local food, and taking the stairs. She studied film at Middlebury College even though she won't admit it (her degree was in Environmental Studies).

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