Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Dan River Coal Ash Spill: The Department of Environment and Natural Resources

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources is working with Duke Energy to monitor and clean up a spill of coal ash that began Feb. 2 from a stormwater pipe into the Dan River in Eden, N.C.

Governor's letter to Duke Energy Feb. 25

NCDENR Feb. 19 Press Conference Video

Environmental Review Commission Presentation - Feb. 17

Timeline of Events

Flickr photo set

Enforcement Actions

Coal Ash Task Force

In response to the recent coal ash spill at Duke Energy’s Dan River facility in Eden, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources formed an internal coal ash task force. The group is charged with assessing coal ash basins statewide and developing procedures to prevent future environmental disasters at these facilities. The task force is comprised of DENR staff specialists from the all divisions that regulate coal ash, as well as members of the department’s senior administration.

DENR Task Force Members

Dam Safety

Letter sent to Duke Energy Feb. 14 regarding 36-inch stormwater pipe

Duke Energy's response received Feb. 24
DENR's response to Duke Energy's Feb. 24 letter


Stormwater pipe inspection video part 1
Stormwater pipe inspection video part 2

Water Quality Testing

Arsenic concentrations at 36-inch stormwater pipe

Water Quality Test Results 

Sampling Sites Map (updated Feb. 12)
The map shows three original water sampling locations: Draper Landing, just downstream of the spill site; downstream of the spill site at the Virginia line; and upstream at a location on Hwy 14; along with one location added at Milton near the Va. border. All of the sampling sites are at bridge crossings. The map also shows locations where DENR conducts regular testing.
DENR staff are continuing to sample and test the water for heavy metals, sulfates, nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus), and total suspended solids.
Here are the specific metals DENR is testing for:
On-site testing
Initial water quality testing performed by DENR staff on site at Duke Energy’s Dan River power plant on Tuesday, Feb. 4 showed no deviation from normal levels of temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen and conductivity due to the release of water and ash from the facility’s coal ash impoundment. DENR staff are continuing to test for these parameters.
Learn more about these parameters and what they mean.
Test results (updated Feb. 18)
Ambient Water Quality Monitoring
DENR has a network of ambient water quality monitoring stations throughout the state. DWR's Ambient Monitoring System webpage provides more information and instructions for obtaining ambient monitoring data.

NPDES Permit for Dan River

Letter sent to Duke Energy Feb. 25 regarding NPDES permit

NPDES permit for Dan River facility

Facilities that discharge wastewater to streams, lakes and other state waters are regulated through National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System – or NPDES – permits. The permits include federal and state regulatory requirements for the protection of human health and aquatic life. In North Carolina, electrical generating facilities that have coal ash ponds are also required to monitor groundwater in accordance with the state's regulatory program. This document contains groundwater monitoring data for the Dan River facility from Jan. 2010 - Feb. 2014.
DENR's Division of Water Resources has more information about coal ash regulation.

What is in coal ash and the wastewater discharge?

During the last five years the following parameters have been monitored by the Dan River facility in association with their federal discharge permit: Arsenic, Selenium, Copper, Iron, Sulfate, temperature, pH, Total Suspended Solids, oil and grease and nutrients including nitrogen and phosphorus. They have also been required to perform Whole Effluent Toxicity testing – a test that uses the entire waste stream at different concentrations to evaluate its effect on aquatic life.
The wastewater is analyzed, in accordance with EPA guidance, for its potential to be noncompliant with state water quality standards. The analysis of data indicates that the concentration of the compounds monitored at the Dan River facility is significantly lower than what is allowed by EPA. The Dan River facility has also consistently passed all quarterly Whole Effluent Toxicity tests.
Ash has a large variety of constituents, it is mostly consists of silicon oxide, iron oxide, and aluminum oxide. But it also has trace amounts of arsenic, selenium, mercury, boron, thallium, cadmium, chlorides, bromine, magnesium, chromium, copper nickel, and other metals.
The ash composition varies widely depending on the coal type and origin, burning regime, air pollution control equipment, etc.

DENR Press Releases

Mar. 3, 12:25 p.m. State issues notices of violation for five more Duke Energy plants
Feb. 28, 4:56 p.m. - State agency issues violation notices, enforcement recommendations to Duke Energy for coal ash spill
Feb. 28, 3:38 p.m. - DENR responding to discharge from pipe at Duke Energy power plant in Rutherford County
Feb. 27, 2:45 p.m. - Latest update on Dan River coal ash spill activities
Feb. 25, 2:51 p.m. - State environmental agency considers requiring Duke Energy to move coal ash from Dan river site
Feb. 24, 4:23 p.m. - State environmental officials start sampling fish tissue near Dan River coal ash spill site
Feb. 21, 4:13 p.m. - Aluminum and iron still exceed surface water quality standards near coal ash spill site
Feb. 18, 5:06 p.m. - DENR orders Duke Energy to halt discharges from second pipe under coal ash basin
Feb. 18, 12:44 p.m. - MEDIA ALERT: State environmental agency to hold briefing for news media
Feb. 17, 5:25 p.m. - State environmental agency starts water quality sampling at John H. Kerr Reservoir
Feb. 14, 7:20 p.m. - State probing structural integrity of second pipe under Dan River coal ash pond 
Feb. 13, 4:40 p.m. - State environmental agency investigating wastewater discharge at site of coal ash spill
Feb. 12, 4:16 p.m. State releases additional water quality test results from Dan River coal ash spill
Feb. 11, 11:43 a.m. - State regulators outline action on coal ash ponds
Feb. 9, 2:24 p.m. - State regulators clarify reports on arsenic test results near coal ash spill
Feb. 7, 7:38 p.m. - DENR releases remaining test results from water quality sampling near coal ash spill
Feb. 6, 6:59 p.m. - State test results of water quality sampling near coal ash spill released
Feb. 6, 4:41 p.m. - Governor McCrory Directs Duke Energy to Bring Coal Ash Spill Under Control
Feb. 5, 6:23 p.m. - DENR expects water sampling results from river near coal ash spill this week
Feb. 4, 5:53 p.m. - DENR releases initial water test results from Duke Energy coal ash spill
Feb. 4, 9:04 a.m. - DENR Secretary Skvarla heading to Eden, as agency staff members work with Duke Energy to control coal ash spill
Feb. 3, 5:32 p.m. - DENR staff working with utility at site of Dan River spill in Rockingham County

DHHS health advisories for Dan River

For More Information

Visit DENR's news release page, or follow us on Twitter for the latest updates regarding the spill.
DENR's Division of Water Resources has more information about coal ash regulation.
Flickr photo set
EPA website on Dan River spill
Duke Energy website on Dan River spill 

Click here to read the above info:  http://danriverspill.ncdenr.gov/