DENR sampling fish from Dan River spill

From staff reportsFebruary 24, 2014 

  • McCrory: Move coal ash ponds away from rivers

    Gov. Pat McCrory on Saturday said coal ash ponds should be moved farther from rivers in North Carolina, and the ash should be placed in lined facilities.

    “The immediate goal is to stop any existing leaks, clean up any ramifications from existing leaks and spills, and third, have a long-term solution and hopefully in most cases move these ponds or put a permanent cap on,” McCrory said, speaking during a break at a meeting of the National Governors Association.

    It was his strongest stance yet on what should happen in light of the Feb. 2 spill of 39,000 tons of coal ash from a Duke Energy containment site on the Dan River.

    “I know at the Dan River site there’s a potential site already to at least move it away from the river, which could probably most logically be done in a short period of time, and we’re looking at ways we can encourage the utility to do just that,” McCrory said.

    He said wasn’t just talking about the spill site.

    “I hope in most cases we can move the pond,” so that it isn’t near water, McCrory said. “I’m not an engineer or a scientist but that would be hopefully the best option.”

    The governor, a former Duke Energy employee, said long-term protection of the state’s rivers also was needed for coal ash ponds at plants that are no longer running.

    Asked whether ponds should have liners to prevent toxic waste from leaching out, McCrory said: “Yeah, I think there should be requirements to have liners in and around, but that’s something for the engineers to determine, not politicians.” Renee Schoof, Washington Bureau

  • N.C. coal ash by the numbers

    14 Number of coal ash sites Duke Energy has in N.C.

    32 Number of lagoons Duke operates in N.C.

    106 million Tons of coal ash Duke stores in N.C.

    84 million Tons of coal ash soaking in lagoons

    39,000 Tons of coal ash Duke says spilled into Dan River

The state’s environmental agency on Monday began collecting fish in the Dan River to determine if they are safe to eat following the Feb. 2 spill of up to 39,000 tons of coal ash.

The N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources says it typically takes more than a few weeks for pollutants to accumulate in fish tissue. The fish collected this week will be tested and compared to fish sampled in about a month, then six months and then a year for the presence of coal ash metals.

Specimens will be collected upstream from Duke Energy’s coal ash plant in Rockingham County, and at three locations downstream, including at the headwaters of Kerr Lake, about 65 miles north of Raleigh. The state has advised people not to eat fish from the river, and to avoid prolonged contact with the water.

Duke continued permanently plugging the two storm water pipes beneath the coal ash basin with grout over the weekend. The energy company says it has not yet been able to remove a 300-cubic yard deposit of ash in the river near the spill, because of rain and snow melt causing the river to run higher and faster.

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