Communities along Dan River demand quick cleanup

Posted by Craig Jarvis on April 11, 2014 

Communities along the Dan River on the North Carolina-Virginia border north of the Triangle are calling on Duke Energy to immediately employ a fleet of vacuum dredgers to clear the waterway of coal ash.

Earlier this week the Warren County Board of Commissioners issued a resolution that supported scouring the river and connected streams to remove the coal waste. It also calls on the company to remove the material from the 13 ponds at all of the utility’s plants in the Dan basin. Those ponds are at the Belews Creek Station, Roxboro Power Station, Mayo Power Station and Dan River Power Station.

State and federal regulators say the longterm effects of the coal ash are not yet known, but the material is expected to disrupt the ecosystem by choking living organisms on the river bottom.

On Thursday, April 24, a community meeting will be held for people who live in the five counties – Franklin, Granville, Vance, Warren and Halifax – downstream from the Rockingham County plant where 82,000 tons of coal ash spilled through a broken pipe on Feb. 2.

Organized by the Roanoke River Basin Association, the meeting will be to organize to convince Duke into cleaning up the mess using vacuum dredgers. The company has been using vacuums to clean up coal ash deposits near Danville, Va.

That process involves sucking up material from the river, removing water from it and putting it into lined containers that will be sent to an approved lined landfill, when one can be found. That work is expected to last through June.

The environmental association says the cleanup is urgent, because the pollution is discouraging tourists from coming to the economically depressed region.

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