Comments: I agree with the following comments: "“State environmental officials failed to immediately notify the public about a major toxic spill in one of our precious waterways. " I wonder if this would happen during a spill of uranium tailings into our rivers? Duke should have notified Danville and Eden about the release and not wait for Monday....what the hay? I think VA should do something to Duke about this lax notification.....I mean really????
GoDanRiver staff | Posted: Monday, February 3, 2014 6:21 pm
A stormwater pipe broke Sunday afternoon at the closed Dan Steam Station in Eden, N.C., releasing coal ash basin water and coal ash into the Dan River.
A news release from Duke Energy, owner of the station, stated the dam holding back the water in the ash basin is solid, though there is some erosion farthest from the river.
Freestanding water drained from the primary ash basin into the stormwater pipe. Duke Energy has a team working to eliminate the discharge from the pipe.
Danville emergency management staff has been monitoring the situation and have been in consultation with Duke Energy, the Virginia Department of Emergency Management and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality about the situation.
Barry Dunkley, director of water and wastewater treatment for Danville Utilities, said he was notified about the spill Sunday and was prepared for any problems.
“All water leaving our treatment facility has met public health standards,” Dunkley said in a news release. “We do not anticipate any problems going forward in treating the water we draw from the Dan River.”
An estimate of the volume of water and ash that reached the river is being worked on and Duke Energy has a water quality monitoring team gathering data in the river, and the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources is performing a site inspection.
“We’ve been focused on stopping the release of the ash,” Meghan Musgrave, spokesperson for Duke Energy, said. “We will share more details as they become available.”
Duke Energy said local emergency managers were notified as a precaution, but that of about 5 p.m. Monday, downstream municipal water supplies had not been affected.
The Dan River Steam Station was closed in 2012, when it was replaced by a new natural gas facility.
Duke Energy said it had been conducting studies for the best way to close the ash basin at the site and other retired plant sites prior to the pipe break on Sunday.
Environmental groups, some of which have sued Duke Energy over 14 coal ash dump sites in North Carolina, sharply criticized the utility for waiting for a day before reporting the spill to the public and not immediately releasing information such as results of water quality tests on the river.
“State environmental officials failed to immediately notify the public about a major toxic spill in one of our precious waterways.
Coal ash is extremely dangerous and the communities near the spill deserve information about their health and safety,” Stephanie Schweickert, affiliate organizer with the North Carolina Conservation Network, said in a statement.
Coal ash is the waste left after burning coal. It contains arsenic, mercury, lead, and over a dozen other heavy metals, many of them toxic.