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City Utilities Provides Free Car Washes for Victims of Energy Plant Malfunction

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Many cars in Springfield need to be cleaned thanks to a large cloud of fly ash. It came from the John Twitty Energy Center after an equipment malfunction.
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Many cars in Springfield need to be cleaned thanks to a large cloud of fly ash. 

Fly ash is what's left behind when coal is burned.

There was a cloud of fly ash over parts of Springfield Tuesday after a piece of equipment malfunctioned at the John Twitty Energy Center.

That cloud of fly ash traveled about two miles in 30 minutes.  Now, City Utilities is making sure it pays for car washes for the vehicles impacted.

"I headed outside and they were just covered," says Springfield Resident Bob Pasley of his two cars in the driveway.  "Neighbors cars were covered and we were walking through the grass and dust was coming up like you just put limestone on your lawn."

People who live a few miles northeast of the John Twitty Energy Center got quite the surprise Tuesday morning.

"I was shocked," Pasley says.  "You can still see white stuff in the trees and leaves and in the grass."

Pasley walked outside Tuesday morning to find his two cars and his home covered in Fly Ash.

"We weren't exactly sure how far it carried," says Spokesman for City Utilities Joel Alexander.  "Probably one and a half to two miles."

"We had to rinse the house off and our deck furniture," Pasley says.  "And the deck, we rinsed the deck off."

City Utilities workers say fly ash is not hazardous to people, animals or vegetation.

"We actually have a landfill on site where we collect the fly ash instead of the situation that happened today," says Alexander.  "And we bring it out and have a landfill designed for that so it's heavily regulated but it won't harm a customer's lawn or residence or anything like that."

Fly ash is what's left behind after burning coal.  Tuesday's incident was sparked by a malfunction with the emissions control system which captures fly ash.

"Our concern is on people's vehicles," Alexander says.  "It can be abrasive to cars so we want to make sure people can get that taken care of properly so we are working with commercial car washes at this time.  We are going to make sure we take care of that with our customers the proper way."

Staff at the power plant say it's been operating since 2010 and there has never been a problem like this before.  There is no damage to the plant that City Utilities knows of at this time.

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