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March 18, 2014

Month after Duke Energy spill, Dan River doesn't meet standards

Contaminants are fading from the Dan River downstream of a huge coal-ash spill at a retired Duke Energy coal plant in Eden, but the water still didn't meet standards, according to the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

Contaminants may be fading from the Dan River downstream of a huge coal-ash spill at a retired Duke Energy coal plant, but a month after the spill the water still didn’t meet standards, according to the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

The spill was reported Feb. 3, and initial tests for heavy metals found the water contained too much aluminum, arsenic, copper and iron, according to water-quality standards. The arsenic and copper levels have since dropped to acceptable “surface water quality” levels in tests, according to DENR.

The latest samples, taken March 5, still found aluminum levels to be above the state’s standards at three testing locations downstream of the spill. However, an upstream test also found aluminum “exceedances” – a finding possibly explained by the fact that aluminum is “a common element found in sediments” in the river basin, meaning “exceedances are not uncommon,” the department said in a written release.

The samples were collected at three downstream locations – Draper Landing, Milton, and the Virginia line – and an upstream site at N.C. 14. DENR publishes water-quality sampling results at http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/guest/lab-results.

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