Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Duke Energy Claims Dan River Cleanup Complete but: Law group says 94 percent of deposit still in river/ Critics skeptical of claim that coal ash cleanup is finished / NC, Va. groups to monitor coal ash in Dan River /

Coal Ash Spill:  Seventy miles of the Dan River were coated after a drain pipe collapse at a plant in Eden, N.C., released tens of thousands of tons of coal ash into the water

NC, Va. groups to monitor coal ash in Dan River

By Steve Szkotak Associated Press | Posted: Monday, July 21, 2014 1:15 am        
RICHMOND, Va. — Two water protection groups are teaming up to continue monitoring the Dan River for large deposits of coal ash from a massive spill in North Carolina that flowed into Virginia.

The planned long-term monitoring comes after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency concluded Thursday that Duke Energy had completed the removal of large pockets of coal ash.

The monitoring will be conducted by the Roanoke River Basin Association and the Dan River Basin Association. The groups are fearful coal ash containing an array of toxic heavy metals will continue to be churned up from the river bottom during floods or storms.

“We know that river better than anyone so we know where the coal ash is most likely to move, to stay and collect,” said Tiffany Haworth, executive director of the Dan River group. “We will continue to monitor the river and look for these high deposits of coal ash.”

The testing will complement a range of monitoring already announced before the EPA declared the largest collections of ash had been removed, including 2,500 tons scooped up from a 20-by-350-yard section of the river in Danville.

The coal ash, which had collected behind a dam, was the result of a Feb. 2 breach at a waste dump 24 miles upriver from Danville. Duke Energy estimates about 39,000 tons of coal ash entered the dam after a drain pipe collapsed in Eden, North Carolina. Seventy miles of the river was coated with the gray discharge.

Myles Bartos, the EPA’s on-site coordinator for the cleanup, acknowledged that only a fraction of the coal ash that spilled had been collected.

“Really, the threat is not the coal ash; it’s what’s in the coal ash,” he said. “It’s the metal that’s in the coal ash. The thing that we’re really concerned about is the concentration of metals.”

Bartos stressed that treated public drinking water supplies in Danville and South Boston tested above safe drinking standards.

“The systems did what they were supposed to — take particulate out of the river water,” he said.

The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality will test the water and fish in the river, as well as river sediments, over the next two years, spokesman William Hayden said. The DEQ’s counterpart in North Carolina, as well as Duke and federal agencies, will also continue to monitor the river.

Andrew Lester, executive director of the Roanoke River Basin Association, said while he is aware of the continued testing, the water groups are still committed to conducting their own monitoring.

“Our philosophy is, you trust but you verify,” he said.


Law group says 94 percent of deposit still in river

(434) 791-7987 | Posted: Monday, July 21, 2014 7:23 pm

An environmental group has criticized Duke Energy following its clean-up of a 2,500-ton coal ash deposit at Schoolfield Dam, saying the company has not accounted for the remainder of its 39,000-ton coal ash spill into the Dan River.

“Where are the other 37,000 tons?” said Kathleen Sullivan, senior communications manager for the Southern Environmental Law Center, in an email to the Danville Register & Bee last week. “They have not accounted for 94 percent of the coal-ash waste spilled into the Dan River. Duke has removed about 6 percent of the coal-ash waste it spilled and at just two places: at the spill site itself and the Danville dam. It is hard to believe that the coal ash hasn’t collected elsewhere in places in the river where it could be removed.”

Calling the cleanup of Schoolfield Dam an important milestone, Duke Energy Spokesman Jeff Brooks said the company will continue monitoring and evaluating the Dan River, including sediments.
“While we have completed those projects [Schoolfield and the Town Creek site two miles downstream of Duke’s old Dan River Steam Station in Eden, North Carolina, where the Feb. 2 spill occurred] and removal of material, we are far from complete in our monitoring work at the river,” Brooks said during an interview Monday.
The company will work to determine whether deposits meet criteria for removal by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and whether removal of the material would cause more harm than benefit to the environment, Brooks said.
“That work is going to continue for many months,” Brooks added. “Duke Energy is not going anywhere.
The company recently completed clean-up of a 258-ton coal-ash deposit where Town Creek meets the Dan River in Eden. Material from both sites has been taken to the Upper Piedmont landfill in Person County, North Carolina, for storage.
Myles Bartos, an EPA official in charge of overseeing coal-ash cleanup near the dam, told Danville City Council last week that the Dan River has returned to normal. Bartos said ,ore than 600 water samples have been taken from the river since the spill and all tests have shown consistently safe drinking water and a quick return to normal levels of chemicals.
The Southern Environmental Law Center’s email said Duke is incapable of removing all the coal ash and its pollutants, and that it’s “more important than ever to remove the coal ash from all 14 waterfront sites in North Carolina and move it to safe, dry, lined storage.”

Also, studies from Duke University have shown that coal ash and its heavy metals will enter into the water from sediments in hot weather and “when conditions are right.”
“Also, it will get stirred up when there is a flood,” Sullivan said in the email.
Brooks acknowledged the Dan River is powerful and carries the potential for stirred-up pollutants, “but that’s why we’re monitoring the river so closely and why we’ve conducted monitoring and modeling.”
“Should we see a deposit change and meet the criteria for removal, we would absolutely take action,” Brooks said. “But we’re not seeing that now.”
Duke has taken more than 2,000 surface and drinking water samples in the Dan River since the Feb. 2 spill, Brooks said.
Brooks said he understood the desire to have all the coal ash removed, but extracting all of it “may not be the best option for the river.”
Frank Holleman, Southern Environmental Law Center senior attorney, said the organization will be pressing as hard as possible to get Duke to clean up its coal-ash sites across North Carolina. The law center is representing several environmental groups in court to make Duke clean up its coal-ash pollution from its old Dan River Steam Station in Eden, including the Dan River Basin Association, Roanoke River Basin Association, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy and the Waterkeeper Alliance.
The Dan River Basin Association and the Roanoke River Basin Association will monitor the river, looking for coal ash collection that should be brought before the EPA’s attention, Holleman said.
The Southern Environmental Law Center will be watching what state and federal governments do “to ensure that Duke is appropriately penalized and pays the public for what it has done, for the consequences of the spill,” Holleman said.
The biggest priority is for everyone to make sure Duke cleans up those sites and gets the ash out of these old lagoons and moves it to safe, lined storage away from the rivers, Holleman said.
Another spill could occur in the Dan River and Duke has failed to clean up the coal ash from the old Dan River Steam Station, Holleman said.
“You would think it [cleanup at the Dan River Steam Station] would have happened by now,” Holleman said.

Duke Energy Claims Dan River Cleanup Complete

ash core-3
Waterkeeper Alliance pulled samples from Dan River to test Duke Energy’s cleanup claims. Since the spill was announced in February, Waterkeeper has called for a comprehensive cleanup to all Duke Energy coal ash sites in North Carolina

Waterkeeper Alliance, North Carolina Riverkeepers, and local residents reacted with shock and outrage to Duke Energy’s announcement yesterday that the company had completed clean-up work on the Dan River following the massive February 5th coal ash spill in Eden, North Carolina.

“This is what taking responsibility looks like to Duke Energy.”

After hearing the news of the “completed” cleanup from Duke Energy, Waterkeeper Alliance staff attorney, Pete Harrison, headed straight to Eden, NC, the site of the spill, to see the river for himself and take samples of the remaining coal ash.
They say they’ve completed the cleanup of the Dan River and I think it’s more accurate to say they’ve stopped cleaning up the Dan River,” said Harrison.


94% of toxic coal ash still remains in the Dan River. Tell our state leaders that it's their duty to make Duke Energy clean up ALL of NC's coal ash ponds: http://bit.ly/moveNCcoalash

Read this article: http://abc11.tv/1jFit1V

Critics skeptical of claim that coal ash cleanup is finished

Thursday, July 17, 2014
It's the headline that has environmentalists and folks who live along the Dan River so fired up: "Duke Energy Completes Cleanup Work Along the Dan River." In Rockingham County, they just don't believe that, or they don't understand it.

"If you get out and go three inches deep in the sand, you're in coal ash," said Ben Adkins.

Adkins lives just up the road from Draper's Landing, a popular spot with fishermen and river lovers. He grew up here and talking to him, you can feel his love for the Dan River.

"It means everything to me," Adkins said. "I mean this is where I come in the summer to cool off, fish, hunt for clams. I learned how to swim right over there. It was the first place I knew God was real. It makes me sick. I got a three-year-old boy that'll never be able to come down here."

Accompanied by Pete Harrison, with the Waterkeeper's Alliance, Adkins used a PVC pipe to take core samples from the river bed and found 1-2 inches of a dark grey, shimmering substance buried under about three inches of brown, sandy sediment.

"You can see here this dark colored stuff is pure coal ash," said Harrison. "This is what taking responsibility looks like to Duke Energy."

Duke Energy has spent the last six months cleaning up coal ash that spilled into the Dan on Feb. 2. By the company's own numbers, 39,000 tons of toxic sludge spewed into the river after a pipe under a coal ash lagoon burst.

About 90 percent of that is still coating the riverbed as far as 70 miles downstream, but Duke contends removing it would cause more problems than it solved.

"They say they've completed the cleanup of the Dan River and I think it's more accurate to say they've stopped cleaning up the Dan River," said Harrison.

Still, the EPA signed off on Duke's decision not to clean up more ash as well as the company's request to stop taking water samples from the river. According to Duke, the company has conducted nearly 2,000 surface and drinking water samples in the Dan River and water quality has remained safe since the spill.

But Harrison and other environmentalists contend that, even if that's the case now, it might not stay that way.

"There's good science that shows this stuff does not remained locked in place," Harrison said. "We know that particularly when it heats up in the summer that the ash that's bound up with soil particles and that sort of thing can actually just erupt back into the water. For Duke to be wiping its hands clean and walking away is outrageous."

"It's ridiculous what they did to my river. Makes me fume," said Adkins.


Senate unanimously nixes House coal ash bill
With a 46-0 vote North Carolina's Senate unanimously rejected the House's version of a coal ash clean-up plan, calling it too lenient.