State officials are advising an undisclosed number of residents near Duke Energy coal ash dumps not to drink or cook with water from their wells after tests showed contamination with toxic heavy metals.

A law passed after last year’s spill into the Dan River required the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources to sample wells within 1,000 feet of Duke’s 32 coal ash dumps.

The Associated Press obtained letters sent to 19 homes and a church near Buck Steam Station in Salisbury advising people not to consume their well water. Several of the letters cite high levels of vanadium, a naturally occurring element found in coal ash classified as hazardous by federal health officials.

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