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DENR: Initial tests show water OK near coal ash spill; environmentalists remain concerned

Representatives from the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) say initial results from water quality testing performed on site at Duke Energy’s Dan River power plant 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.”

Environmentalist took to social media Tuesday to showcase their concerns that as much as 82,000 tons toxic sludge had already poured into the Dan River when a storage pipe broke on Sunday.

Below are a few pictures posted by Appalachian Voices showing ash in the river in Danville, approximately 20 miles downstream of the spill.

(Photos: Eric Chance, Appalachian Voices)

(Photo: Eric Chance, Appalachian Voices)

 “It’s pretty clear that there is a lot of ash that has already migrated,” says Matt Wasson of Appalachian Voices, “the water is very gray and the sediment has coal ash in it. Already, the spill has clearly traveled to Danville.”

Critics also note that neither Duke Energy nor any government entity informed the public about this massive spill until 24 hours after it was discovered.

In a press release, DENR  Secretary John Skvarla said his agency will continue to monitor the site and provide assistance to Duke Energy.

“Our primary concern is the safety of the public,” Skvarla said Tuesday. “Those who get their drinking water from private or community wells will be unaffected by this event. In addition, water from the river that has been treated by nearby municipal treatment facilities is safe to drink.”

One community in Virginia that get their water downstream aren’t taking any chances, however.

The Charlotte Observer reported that Virginia Beach has stopped pumping water from Lake Gaston, a reservoir that also provides water to Norfolk and Chesapeake, until further notice.

To  view more images of the spill visit Appalachian Voices’ flickr feed.

One Comment


  1. ncborn

    February 5, 2014 at 2:11 pm

    The first water quality test results are fairly meaningless; you wouldn’t expect that a spill from a coal ash pond would affect water conditions like temperature and dissolved oxygen. Coal ash also doesn’t increase bacteria levels. The real concerns related to coal ash would be metals like selenium and arsenic and then the physical impacts of what appears to be a large amount of ash sludge in or on the water. According to the N & O story, DENR had not received results from the metals tests yet and may not have those results until Thursday. I haven’t seen any comment about the physical impact of the ash on vegetation, fish, etc.

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