Dan River Coal Ash Spill Info

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Eden NC Coal Ash Spill
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Fact Sheet
File Name Description Category Uploaded Size Download
Duke_Site_Layout_020514.pdf Site Layout map showing the approximate location of the stormwater pipeline breach and outfall. Map 2/7/2014 412 KB Download
Eden NC Coal Ash Spill info update 3 Final 030614.pdf Informational Update #3 Fact Sheet 3/6/2014 55 KB Download
Eden NC Coal Ash Spill info update 2 (2).pdf Informational Update #2 Fact Sheet 2/10/2014 50 KB Download
Eden NC Coal Ash Spill info update FINAL VERSION.pdf Informational Update #1, 02/07/2014 Fact Sheet 2/7/2014 51 KB Download
All-Sampling-Locations-thru-021714.pdf All Sample Locations Through 02/17/2014 Map 2/24/2014 3005 KB Download
All-Sampling-Locations-thru-020914.pdf Sample Locations Through 02/09/2014 Map 2/13/2014 1245 KB Download
All_Sampling_Locations_thru020714.pdf Eden NC Ash Spill Sample Locations Through 02/07/14 Map 2/7/2014 1112 KB Download
Fig3_Duke_Sampling_Locations.pdf Eden NC Ash Spill Water Sampling Locations Through 02/05/14 Map 2/5/2014 1327 KB Download
Duke_Schematic_021914_20x30_noborder.pdf Operational Plan, Informational Purposes Only Map 2/24/2014 2269 KB Download
Eden Coal Ash Spill_SitRep 15 (2).pdf SITREP #15 SITREP 2/24/2014 70 KB Download
Eden Coal Ash Spill_SitRep 14.pdf SitRep #14 SITREP 2/19/2014 222 KB Download
Eden Coal Ash Spill_SitRep 13.pdf SITREP #13 SITREP 2/18/2014 67 KB Download
Eden Coal Ash Spill_SitRep 12.pdf SITREP #12 SITREP 2/17/2014 66 KB Download
Eden Coal Ash Spill_SitRep 11.pdf SITREP #11 SITREP 2/17/2014 66 KB Download
Eden Coal Ash Spill_SitRep 10 (2).pdf SITREP #10 SITREP 2/13/2014 62 KB Download
Eden Coal Ash Spill_SitRep 9.pdf SITREP #9 SITREP 2/13/2014 65 KB Download
Eden Coal Ash Spill_SitRep 8.pdf SITREP #8 SITREP 2/13/2014 197 KB Download
Eden Coal Ash Spill_SitRep 7 (2).pdf SITREP #7 SITREP 2/11/2014 62 KB Download
Eden Coal Ash Spill_SitRep 6 (2).pdf SITREP #6 SITREP 2/9/2014 66 KB Download
Eden Coal Ash Spill_SitRep 5 (2).pdf SITREP #5 SITREP 2/9/2014 64 KB Download
Eden Coal Ash Spill_SItRep 4.pdf SITREP #4 SITREP 2/9/2014 205 KB Download
Eden Coal Ash Spill_SItRep 3.pdf SITREP #3 SITREP 2/6/2014 65 KB Download
Eden Coal Ash Spill_SItRep 2.pdf SITREP #2 SITREP 2/5/2014 61 KB Download
Eden Coal Ash Spill_SItRep 1.pdf SITREP #1 SITREP 2/4/2014 527 KB Download
VDH Coal Ash Release Fact Sheet.pdf Virginia Department of Health Coal Ash Release Fact Sheet Fact Sheet 2/8/2014 76 KB Download
NCDENR_Picts_02032014.pdf Pictures provided by NC DENR taken during daylight hours on 02/03/2014. Photo 2/5/2014 15610 KB Download
Coal_Ash_MSDS.pdf Coal Ash MSDS and Safety Information HASP 2/25/2014 357 KB Download
Eden_Coal_Ash_H_&_S_Contacts.pdf Health and Safety Officer's Contact Inforamation HASP 2/25/2014 42 KB Download
Eden_Coal_Ash_Confined_Space.pdf Confined Space Permit Example HASP 2/25/2014 143 KB Download
Sampling_Exceedances_All_20140219.pdf Sediment exceedances through 2/19/2014 Map 3/21/2014 365 KB Download
Sampling_Exceedances_As_20140219.pdf Sediment exceedances for Arsenic through 2/19/2014 Map 3/21/2014 354 KB Download
Sampling_Exceedances_Ba_20140219.pdf Sediment exceedances for Barium through 2/19/2014 Map 3/21/2014 355 KB Download
Sampling_Exceedances_Se_20140219.pdf Sediment exceedances for Selenium through 2/19/2014 Map 3/21/2014 355 KB Download
Sampling_Exceedances_Sr_20140219.pdf Sediment exceedances for Strontium through 2/19/2014 Map 3/21/2014 357 KB Download
Eden-NC-Coal-Ash-Spill-info-update-4-Kerr-Reservoir .pdf Update on sampling results from Kerr Reservoir Fact Sheet 5/6/2014 190 KB Download
Percent_Ash_Increase05212014.pdf Percent Ash Comparison Map (May 21) Map 5/22/2014 1727 KB Download
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Site Contact:
Kenneth Rhame (Region 4) & Myles Bartos (Region 3)

900 S. Edgewood RD.
Eden, NC 27288
Latitude: 36.4878601
Longitude: -79.7189733

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EPA North Carolina outpost OSC (On-Scene Coordinator) received a phone call from North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources at 4:45 pm on 2/3/2014 requesting assistance in responding to a coal ash pond release that occurred on 2/2/2014.

The release of coal ash occurred at the Dan River Steam Station (Duke Energy) north of Eden, NC in Rockingham County. The estimated volume of ash released is between 50,000 tons and 82,000 tons. Also,approximately 27 million gallons of ash pond water waste released. The released ash and water was discharged to the Dan River. Attempts to secure release were reported to be unsuccessful. NC DENR requested an EPA presence for technical assistance.

Given proximity to the spill site and the potential impact of VA waters, Region 4 requested crossover support from its backup Region (EPA Region 3). Per our request, Region 3 deployed OSC Chris Wagner to the scene (about 3 hours away). Kevin Eichinger and Jose Negron, R4, were deployed from Atlanta.

A 48” slip-joint concrete and corrugated steel storm sewer line that runs under the ash pond failed. Coal ash and ash pond water flowed into the failed section of the line, and then to the Dan River. The 48" sewer line and a 36" sewer line that both run under the coal ash impoundment have been sealed. Crews are currently removing accessible coal ash from the Dan River and sampling drinking water, surface water and river sediments.

  • Information Update #1
  • Information Update #2
  • Information Update #3

    Go to EPA Region 4's Public Website Duke Energy Ash Spill into the Dan River for access to all validated EPA sample results for drinking water, surface water and river sediment


  • UNC Superfund scientists study effects of Dan River coal ash spill
    By Sarah Yelton
    U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Duke Energy crews U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Duke Energy crews prepare to take water quality samples in the Dan River. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency)
    coal ash on the banks of the Dan River Coal ash was deposited on the banks of the Dan River, just downstream of the spill location. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency)
    Damian Shea, Ph.D. Shea, standing, and the team analyze samples in the lab. (Photo courtesy of UNC SRP)
    One of the largest coal ash spills in the nation’s history began Feb. 2 in Eden, N.C., at a Duke Energy containment pond on the banks of the Dan River. According to a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimate, (http://www.epaosc.org/site/site_profile.aspx?site_id=9065)  by the time the discharge was stopped, 50,000 to 80,000 tons of toxic coal ash had entered the Dan River, lining its banks and depositing waste along the riverbed for 70 miles downstream.
    In response to this environmenal challenge, a team of NIEHS-funded scientists led by Damian Shea, Ph.D., (http://ea.cals.ncsu.edu/who-we-are/damian-shea/)  joined forces with state and federal regulatory agencies, to help answer important questions about the toxic chemicals present in the coal ash. The information from the team’s research should enable regulators to better assess potential risks to human health in communities along the river.
    Shea is a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) Superfund Research Program (SRP) researcher and a professor of biological sciences at North Carolina State University (NCSU).
    “Our goal is to help our agency partners determine exactly what toxic chemicals are present in this coal ash, as well as to what extent these chemicals are present in water and sediment in the river,” Shea explained. “There are a number of potentially hazardous chemicals contained in coal ash, primarily toxic metals, such as arsenic and selenium. Cancer-causing chemicals, including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), may also be present at lower levels.”
    What chemicals are present?
    Shea and his lab team at NCSU are currently working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and N.C. Department of Health and Human Services to collect and properly store samples of coal ash, water, bottom sediments, and organisms such as fish and mussels from a number of sites along the river, for lab analysis.
    “There is limited information on how quickly the metals and other chemicals are released from the coal ash to enter the water and food chain,” Shea said. Using ash from the containment pond, Shea and his team will conduct experiments to determine how quickly metals, PAHs, and other chemicals are able to enter the water column.
    Evaluating the potential for exposure
    With passive sampling devices that remain in the river for 30-day intervals, Shea and his team are assessing the type and amount of chemicals people may be exposed to over the long term, as well as the percentage of those chemicals that are bioavailable, or absorbed by an organism.
    “One of the goals of our program is to apply university resources to help governments and the public make informed decisions about reducing risk from hazardous chemicals,” said Kathleen Gray, one of Shea’s SRP colleagues and leader of the UNC SRP Research Translation Core. “Damian’s sampling and analysis is serving a critical need for information on how this contamination may affect health in the future.”
    (Sarah Yelton is an environmental education coordinator with the Environmental Resource Program at UNC and UNC SRP Research Translation Core leader.)


    Legal Action re: Coal Ash Spill

    Kathleen Sullivan, SELC, 919-945-7106 or ksullivan@selcnc.org
    Frank Holleman, SELC, 864- 979-9431 or fholleman@selcnc.org
    Tiffany Haworth, Dan River Basin Association, 336-627-6270 or thaworth@danriver.org
    Michael Ward, Roanoke River Basin Association, 276-634-2540 or mward@co.henry.va.us
    Ulla Reeves, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, 828-254-6776 x2 or ulla@cleanenergy.org
    Pete Harrison, Waterkeeper Alliance, 828-582-0422 or pharrison@waterkeeper.org

    Dan River Groups Seek Cleanup of Duke’s Coal Ash Pollution
    CHAPEL HILL, N.C.—The Southern Environmental Law Center today filed motions to allow four conservation groups working on the Dan River to participate in the state court enforcement action against Duke Energy for its illegal coal ash pollution of the Dan River and groundwater drinking supplies.  SELC filed the motion on behalf of groups that monitor and protect the Dan River– the Dan River Basin Association, the Roanoke River Basin Association, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, and Waterkeeper Alliance.  They identified numerous illegal discharges ignored by the state in the aftermath of Duke’s disastrous coal ash spill last month. 
    “The tragic Dan River spill and the revelations of uncomfortably close ties between Duke Energy and DENR make it all the more important that citizens and local conservation groups have a seat at the table,” said Frank Holleman, the senior attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center who represents the groups in court.  “We will work to make sure that the Dan River is protected and that Duke Energy cleans up the Dan River site.”
    The groups seek to stop and clean up unpermitted streams of contaminated surface water that have been discharging from the dikes of the Dan River coal ash lagoons since before the spill and are continuing today, as well as persistent groundwater pollution leaching from these unlined impoundments that documentation shows Duke Energy and the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources have known about since the early 1990s.  The illegal discharges at Dan River include high levels of coal ash pollutants such as arsenic and lead.
    “It is important that local citizens in the Dan River Basin have a voice in the cleanup of Duke Energy's coal ash pollution and DRBA can represent that voice,” said Allison Szuba, president of the Dan River Basin Association (DRBA) Board of Directors. “DRBA has been serving the North Carolina and Virginia communities in the basin for over a decade and we will continue to do so by doing what is necessary to prevent this from happening again.”
    “This spill demonstrates the dire need to remove coal ash from impoundments adjacent to our lakes and rivers and into dry, lined storage,” said Gene Addesso, president of the Roanoke River Basin Association.  “We cannot allow these same negligent actions to continue polluting our water and putting at risk the citizens and businesses within the Roanoke River Basin that depend on this precious natural resource.”
    Previously, the North Carolina court allowed other groups to intervene with respect to Duke’s coal ash sites on Mountain Island Lake, north of Charlotte; on Lakes Wylie and Norman along the Catawba River; Duke’s Asheville site; and its Sutton site near Wilmington on the Cape Fear River..  Seven conservation groups around the state have additional motions to intervene currently pending before the court.
    “The Dan River site is an ongoing disaster, with illegal discharges pouring out of the coal ash lagoons everywhere you look,” said Waterkeeper Alliance’s Pete Harrison.  “Our rivers should be protected from the scourge of coal ash, and we should make sure that the Dan River is never again subjected to coal ash pollution and a catastrophic spill.”
    The Southern Environmental Law Center represented conservation groups in South Carolina in several recent legal challenges, leading to South Carolina utilities SCE&G and Santee Cooper committing to remove 13.4 million tons of coal ash from unlined lagoons at four sites throughout the state.  All the South Carolina coal ash will be moved to dry storage in lined landfills or recycled. 
    “The Dan River spill shows all the things that are wrong with the primitive storage of coal ash in unlined, polluting pits next to our waterways,” said Ulla Reeves of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.  “It is long past time that the Dan River site was cleaned up, and moving all the Dan River coal ash away from the river to dry, lined storage should become the model for safe disposal of coal ash.” 
    About the Southern Environmental Law Center
    The Southern Environmental Law Center is a regional nonprofit using the power of the law to protect the health and environment of the Southeast (Virginia, Tennessee, North and South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama). Founded in 1986, SELC's team of nearly 60 legal and policy experts represent more than 100 partner groups on issues of climate change and energy, air and water quality, forests, the coast and wetlands, transportation, and land use. www.SouthernEnvironment.org
    About the Dan River Basin Association
    The Dan River Basin Association was created by residents to protect and promote the natural and cultural assets of the 3,300 square mile Dan River basin in Virginia and North Carolina through education, recreation and stewardship. www.danriver.org
    About the Roanoke River Basin Association
    The Roanoke River Basin Association is a non-profit organization based in Danville, Virginia, whose mission is to establish and carry out a strategy for the development, use, preservation and enhancement of the resources of the Roanoke River system of lakes and streams in the best interest of present and future generations.  RRBA consists of hundreds of members, primarily located within the 410-mile-long Roanoke River basin in Virginia and North Carolina, including local governments; non-profit, civic and community organizations; regional government entities; businesses and individuals.    http://prod.rrba.org/.
    About the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy
    Southern Alliance for Clean Energy is a nonprofit organization that promotes responsible energy choices that create global warming solutions and ensure clean, safe, and healthy communities throughout the Southeast.
    About Waterkeeper Alliance
    Founded in 1999 by environmental attorney and activist Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and several veteran Waterkeeper Organizations, Waterkeeper Alliance is a global movement of on-the-water advocates who patrol and protect over 100,000 miles of rivers, streams and coastlines in North and South America, Europe, Australia, Asia and Africa.

    Dan River group wants in on lawsuit against Duke Energy

    By Taft Wireback taft.wireback@news-record.com | Posted: Thursday, March 20, 2014 11:52 am

    The Dan River Basin Association joined with three other conservation groups Thursday to intervene in a lawsuit state officials have filed against Duke Energy to stop pollution from the power company’s coal ash ponds.
    DRBA, Roanoke River Basin Association, Waterkeeper Alliance and the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy want a state judge to admit them so they can push for a full cleanup of the Feb. 2 spill at Duke Energy’s retired Dan River Steam Station in Eden. The spill sent huge amounts of toxic coal ash and polluted wastewater into the Dan River.
    “It is important that local citizens in the Dan River Basin have a voice in the cleanup of Duke Energy’s coal ash pollution, and DRBA can represent that voice,” said Allison Szuba, the president of the Dan River Basin Association’s board of directors.
    The lawsuit was necessary to keep pressure on both Duke Energy and the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources to end coal ash pollution at Duke Energy’s spill site in Eden and elsewhere across the state, said Frank Holleman, a senior attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center, which represents the citizen groups.
    “The tragic Dan River spill and the revelations of uncomfortably close ties between Duke Energy and DENR make it all the more important that citizens and local conservation groups have a seat at the table,” Holleman said.
    “The Roanoke basin group joined DRBA and the others to make sure that Duke cleans up all remnants of the Feb. 2 spill, move any remaining stored ash away from the river and into a secure landfill and to do so as quickly as reasonably possible,” said Mike Ward, a resident of Martinsville, Va., who serves on that group’s board of directors.
    “We want reassurance more than just saying, ‘We’re going to do it,’ ” Ward said.
    The lawsuit is part of a series that several other environmental groups initially sought to file last year, contending that state  government was doing nothing about groundwater pollution from Duke
    Energy’s ash ponds at 14 active and retired coal-fired plants across the state.
    The DENR stepped into the lawsuits belatedly to sue Duke for the alleged environmental violations and supplant the original environmental groups.
    Last year, the original citizen groups assumed the role of intervener's, side parties to the lawsuit that are allowed to participate because they have significant interests in its outcome.
    DRBA and the three other conservation groups are the first to request interveners status in the case involving the Dan River facility, Holleman said.


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    EPA knew of faulty pipes at Dan River ash basin in 2009

    By Taft Wireback taft.wireback@news-record.com | Posted: Wednesday, March 19, 2014 9:40 pm

    As federal officials convene a grand jury this week to investigate the Dan River coal ash spill, they might want to look in an unlikely spot before pointing fingers of blame.

    The mirror.

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency failed to seize an opportunity in September 2009 that might have prevented last month’s disaster near the retired Dan River Steam Station in Eden, the third-worst coal ash spill in U.S. history.

    The spill on Feb. 2 occurred after a drainage pipe ruptured under the ash basin for the closed coal-fired plant. It’s one of two such pipes mentioned as potential problems in a detailed report prepared almost five years ago by an EPA consultant.

    EPA later sent Duke Energy and state officials an “inspection letter” about the plant in Eden that never mentioned recommendations by its own consultant for both pipes to be checked regularly, said Steve McEvoy, North Carolina’s chief dam-safety engineer.

    That stymied state regulators, keeping them from addressing the pipes in their later examinations of the site, said McEvoy, whose program is part of the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

    “As due diligence, we relied on a review of the EPA inspection letter that did not mention the storm drains, even though they were mentioned in the detailed report (by the federal agency’s consultant),” McEvoy said in an email. “I do not know why the EPA did not consider the drainage pipes in their final recommendations.”

    McEvoy’s office in January 2010 assumed supervision of the dams protecting coal ash ponds across the state, inheriting a job the N.C. Utilities Commission had held for 35 years. But the EPA serves as the ultimate regulator for the nation’s environmental laws.

    At least five other studies of Dan River for the state’s utilities board between 1981 and 2006 also mentioned the pipes as a potential problem that deserved attention. Those reports, however, went to a utilities board whose members lacked expertise in dam-safety engineering. They turned informally to the DENR for advice in interpreting the reports and then relied on the various power companies to carry out any recommendations.

    The EPA sent the inspection letter from its Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response directly to Duke Energy on Sept. 14, 2009, about four months before ash-pond scrutiny passed from the utilities commission to McEvoy’s office. McEvoy and his staff took the EPA letter as their marching orders for the site at Dan River, supervising work for several years to shore up the ponds’ earthen dam walls, stop polluted water from seeping out and fend off burrowing animals.

    In general, a consulting firm hired by the EPA, Paul C. Rizzo Associates of Columbia, S.C., rated the Dan River ash basin in good condition during 2009 “with a few areas of concern, chiefly seepage and shallow surface slides. ...”

    The EPA told the News & Record that it didn’t single out the pipes for extra attention five years ago because the agency’s engineering consultant believed they already were being checked adequately by Duke Energy, in line with “standard industry practice.”

    “Issues related to the structural stability of the two stormwater pipes that pass under the primary (ash pond) were assessed by the EPA’s contractor and determined to be adequate at the point in time during which the assessment took place,” EPA spokeswoman Enesta Jones said in an email.

    EPA commissioned the 2009 study as one of many across the region after a catastrophe in December 2008 involving coal ash in Kingston, Tenn.,

    Coal ash contains a variety of heavy metals and other toxic chemicals that can be harmful to people, wildlife and fish.

    The Dan River ash basin includes two ponds where Duke Energy stores the remains of pulverized coal once burned to generate electricity at a shuttered plant that was replaced several years ago by one that runs on natural gas.

    Decades ago, Duke engineers enlarged the old plant’s main ash pond over the two drainage pipes designed to carry relatively clean stormwater from land behind the basin, beneath the basin of polluted ash water and then out to the river.

    In addition to citing the submerged pipes as potential problems in 2009, Rizzo Associates found several shortcomings in the Dan River facility’s earthen dam and its upkeep. Federal regulators included those items in their subsequent inspection letter, though not the submerged pipes, and McEvoy’s state office supervised Duke Energy’s efforts to deal with them, including the seepage of polluted water from the dam.

    McEvoy reported to EPA last August that “final approval of the repairs” at Dan River had been issued by the state government.

    His staff never checked the two stormwater pipes because EPA did not list them as items of concern and also because “historic drawings provided by Duke Energy described the pipes as reinforced concrete,” he said.

    In fact, part of the pipe that collapsed and caused the spill was made of less-durable corrugated metal, a factor in the collapse that Duke and government officials disclosed in the days immediately after the spill.

    A check of the second drainage pipe after the spill on Feb. 2 showed that it also leaked in numerous places, allowing polluted water from the ash pond above to enter that second pipe and then flow out to the river.

    Duke plugged both pipes last month.

    Duke officials declined to comment on whether their company was careful enough in following recommendations in various past studies that suggested different ways of monitoring the two submerged drainage pipes.

    But spokeswoman Paige Sheehan noted that Rizzo’s report for the EPA recommended that the utility check water coming out of the pipes for “turbidity,” cloudiness that would suggest they were leaking.

    “We followed the recommendation,” Sheehan said.

    The EPA would not say whether U.S. Department of Justice prosecutors in Raleigh have subpoenaed any of its records in their coal ash probe, which apparently focuses on both the Dan River spill and whether state regulators cut Duke Energy too much slack generally in enforcing the anti-pollution laws that affect the utility’s 30-plus ash ponds at 14 active and retired coal-fired plants across the state.

    “EPA and the DOJ (Department of Justice) regularly coordinate our collective efforts to enforce environmental law and protect the public. Due to the ongoing investigation information shared between the two organizations is confidential,” Jones said last week.

    DOJ investigators from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Eastern North Carolina subpoenaed numerous coal ash documents and witnesses from the state DENR along with reports and other material from the N.C. Utilities Commission, mostly from the its last 15 years of ash-pond regulation. Duke Energy officials also have acknowledged having been served subpoenas, but they have declined to say who or what was summoned.

    A spokesman for Rizzo Associates referred questions about the report to the EPA.

    But Rizzo executive Conrad Ginther said in a recent telephone interview that none of the firm’s data or documents related to the facility in Eden have been subpoenaed by the grand jury, which began its probe Tuesday.

    “The EPA has all our records that were based in the report,” Ginther said.



    Posted on: March 19, 2014

    Virginia agencies provide update on coal ash spill

    Danville city seal
    The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality led a public meeting Tuesday in Danville regarding the coal ash spill and the response from Virginia agencies. Officials said they will continue to assess conditions in the Dan River and monitor remediation efforts.

    "We're in this for the long-haul, we're going to make sure the right thing is done for the river and the right thing is done for the citizens," said David Paylor, director of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.

    In assessing conditions, agencies are analyzing water quality data from water samples collected along the river. Agencies also are studying tissue from fish samples collected.

    Paylor told a packed City Council chamber that initial tests on the river’s fish showed no immediate contamination by heavy metals found in coal ash, though the fish continue to test positive for mercury and PCBs — as they have for many years.

    State agencies have reposted warning signs along the river regarding fish consumption limits. “Those signs were there before,” Paylor said. “They are only for the PCBs and mercury, but they are back in place.”

    While the first tests on fish show no build-up of heavy metals in their tissue, Paylor said agencies will continue to test fish tissue to make sure the heavy metals do not build up in their flesh over time.

    Danville’s drinking water continues to be safe, Paylor said.

    Remediation efforts currently are focused on removing large deposits of coal ash from the river. Duke Energy has completed the removal of the deposit created below the discharge point at its Eden, N.C., plant. Duke Energy next will remove a deposit left near the Schoolfield Dam in Danville. Duke Energy is in the process of securing permits for removal of that deposit.

    Paylor said only large deposits of coal ash would be removed from the river. “In other areas, the coal ash is so dispersed it would cause more harm to try to remove it. You would collect more mud than ash.”

    Paylor said state and federal officials are in the process of setting up a natural resource damage assessment program. The assessment will try to put a dollar amount on the ecological, recreational and economic damage caused by the spill.

    “We will then hold Duke Energy responsible for that,” Paylor said.

    A pipe under the main coal ash pond at Duke Energy’s shuttered Dan River Steam Station located 20 miles upstream from Danville broke on Feb. 2 and spewed up to 39,000 tons of coal ash into the river.

    Paylor addressed whether a coal ash spill could happen in Virginia. He said Virginia has 11 ash coal pits, and they have all undergone state and Environmental Protection Agency inspections to ensure a similar environmental mess won't occur. He said five of the impoundments are scheduled to be retired.

    The meeting was held in the City Council Chambers on the fourth floor of the Municipal Building. In addition to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, the agencies included representatives from the state Health Department and the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

    DEQ Addresses City Council and Public On Coal Ash Spill

    WSET.com - ABC13

    Posted: Mar 18, 2014 10:03 PM EDT

    Danville, VA - The DEQ Director addressed concerns Tuesday night from City Council and the public. The DEQ says they plan to learn a lot about what could happen to the wildlife and environment from the Tennessee ash spill that happened years ago. Crowds packed Danville's Council Chambers to hear updates from state agencies. In the audience, loaded with questions and concerns, North Carolina resident, Morris Lawson came to the meeting hoping for answers.
    "It makes me feel better that they are going to be out there. But until I see them dredging or pulling stuff out, that will make me really feel better," said Lawson.
    DEQ Director David Paylor led the conversation alongside representatives from the state Health Department and the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.
    "We're in this for the long-haul, we're going to make sure the right thing is done for the river and the right thing is done for the citizens," said Paylor.
    Paylor says the most recent calculations show 39,000 tons of coal ash entered the river. He says they tried to collect the ash near the spill site.
    "22 tons was captured below immediately below...pretty small amount," said Paylor.
    Paylor explained that they plan an additional ash recovery upstream from the Schoolfield Dam starting within a month. Meanwhile, he says the DEQ has been collecting several samples, everything from drinking water to fish tissue. He says water is still safe to drink.
    "There are really no levels of concern of fish tissue right now. Can you eat the fish?...There are no additional problems as of yet as a result of this," said Paylor.
    Paylor says they plan to keep testing the fish for years to come.
    After the meeting, Duke Energy representatives spoke to City Council. They apologized again about what happened and said they take full responsibility, including financially. Representatives said they plan to move the Dan River ash pond in the next 24 to 30 months.
    The Department of Game and Inland Fisheries says they plan to be on the river Wednesday to collect samples, looking for possible clam and mussel kills. The DEQ says a fish advisory is in effect but that started before the spill. And the Health Department warns everyone to use their own judgment in regards to being in contact with the water. They suggest to not touch the coal ash, if you see it floating.

    National and regional coverage of the Dan River spill and its aftermath
    In early February, as 39,000 tons of toxic coal ash from a retired Duke Energy power plant poured through a ruptured storm-water pipe and into the Dan River just outside of Eden, NC, the pressing dangers of coal ash burst into the national consciousness. The spill also brought nationwide attention to SELC’s continued efforts to clean up the mess, which began before the incident. Click here for a comprehensive write up of the issue.

    Here is a selection of some of the news coverage about the spill and SELC:


    Tweak to NC Law Protected Duke's Coal Ash Pits
    ABC News, March 17, 2014
    DENR rejects Duke's coal ash plan, amid accusations of leniency
    News & Observer, March 13, 2014
    Duke’s coal ash plan needs to show urgency
    Charlotte Observer, March 10, 2014

    Utility Cited for Violating Pollution Law in North Carolina
    The New York Times, March 3, 2014
    Judge Orders Duke Energy To Stop Groundwater Pollution At Coal Ash Dumps
    Huffington Post, March 6, 2014

    Coal Ash Spill Shows How a Watchdog was Defanged
    New York Times, February 28, 2014
    As NC debates, other states empty coal ash dumps
    The Washington Post, February 28, 2014

    DENR actions on coal ash raise questions
    Raleigh News & Observer, February 22, 2014

    NC Coal Ash Spill Investigation Widens As Federal Prosecutors Subpoena State Records
    Huffington Post, February 20, 2014

    Regulatory Favoritism in North Carolina

    The New York Times, February 16, 2014

    Duke plans to dredge river as coal ash deal dumped
    Washington Post/AP, February 11, 2014

    NC regulators shielded Duke’s coal ash pollution
    York Dispatch/AP, February 9, 2014

    Sharp disagreement over effects of North Carolina coal ash spill
    Los Angeles Times, February 8, 2014

    Audio and Video:
    Feds probe relationship between N.C. regulators and Duke Energy after spill
    CBS News, March 18, 2014
    On the Record: Coal ash debate heats up (VIDEO)
    WRAL.com, March 1, 2014
    Toxic Chemical Spills in West Virginia and North Carolina
    The Diane Rehm Show, February 24, 2014

    Toxic Leak Taints North Carolina Coal Plants, And Regulators
    NPR, February 20, 2014
    Warnings ignored ahead of toxic NC spill
    The Rachel Maddow Show, February 10, 2014
    Subpoena looks for dirty deal in toxic spill
    The Rachel Maddow Show, February 13, 2014

    Interactive Maps:
    Drinking water intakes downstream from the Dan River spill: http://cdb.io/1azMQSH
    Drinking water intakes downstream from coal ash pits across the region: http://cdb.io/1neAekg


    Dan River Coal Ash Spill

    Matt Wasson conducting water quality testing at the Dan River coal ash spill
    On Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014, a stormwater pipe at a retired coal-fired power plant in Eden, N.C., collapsed, sending an estimated 39,000 tons of coal ash and 27 million gallons of contaminated water into the Dan River. Duke Energy, owner of the coal plant and coal ash pond, failed to report the incident to the general public for nearly 24 hours.
    Today, coal ash lies five feet thick near the spill point and coats the riverbed for miles, with traces of the toxic waste evident more than 70 miles downstream. Duke Energy estimates it will take two years to clean up the Dan River.
    Appalachian Voices was one of the first groups on the scene, taking water samples and documenting what would become the third largest coal ash disaster in the nation. It ultimately took Duke six days to plug the failed pipe, and leaks from two adjacent pipes at the same facility were discovered by regional advocacy groups.
    Water sampled from the Dan River by Appalachian Voices revealed contaminants such as lead, iron, manganese and arsenic that exceeded state and federal drinking water standards. Duke Energy and DENR repeatedly claimed that toxics in the river were negligible, however five days after releasing initial water testing results, DENR admitted it had misinterpreted the data, which showed that arsenic levels in the Dan River were actually four times higher than state standards. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued an advisory not to touch parts of the Dan affected by the spill or eat fish and mussels from the river.
    [ See the sidebar above right or visit our Front Porch Blog for the latest updates ]
    Tell Senate and the EPA to set strong safeguards on coal ash
    A week after the spill was stopped, it became clear that neither Duke nor DENR would be able to quickly wipe their hands of the disaster when the U.S. Attorney’s office in Raleigh, N.C., began a federal criminal investigation, requesting records from related to coal ash discharges including emails, memos and reports dating back to 2010. Soon after, federal investigators requested records from the North Carolina Utilities Commission, which, until 2010, was responsible for inspecting coal ash dams every five years.
    [ Read more about how we're working on coal ash pollution in the Southeast ]
    The tragic Dan River spill has been a wake up call for many across North Carolina — environmental groups, social justice groups, and concerned citizens have come together like never before to shed a light on the toxic coal ash problem that plagues the state. Duke Energy has 37 unlined ponds at 14 power plants in the state, with the potential to cause even more devastation than the Dan River disaster if a dam were to fail.

    Links to more information