Coal Ash Continues to Plague Virginia

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The Southern Environmental Law Center is holding Duke Energy accountable for the 39,000 tons of coal ash contaminating the Dan River, according to the Times Dispatch.

On Feb. 2, a faulty Duke Energy pipe located at the bottom of the Dan River in North Carolina sprung a leak and spewed coal ash into the river contaminating the water sources of cities upstream such as Danville, Va. Coal ash, the leftover material after coal is burned, contains toxins such as mercury, lead and arsenic, according to Wunderground. When the coal ash mixed with the water in the river, it created a toxic sludge.

Last week, Duke Energy announced that it had cleaned up 2,500 tons of coal ash just upstream from the Schoolfield Dam in Danville. While Duke Energy spokesman Jeff Brooks argues that the cleanup was an important milestone for the Dan River, the Southern Environmental Law Center says that it is far from enough.

“Where are the other 37,000 tons?” said Kathleen Sullivan, senior communications manager for the Southern Environmental Law Center, according to the Times Dispatch. “They have not accounted for 94 percent of the coal-ash waste spilled into the Dan River.”

Brooks said that removing all of the coal ash from the river “may not be the best option for the river.” The Environmental Protection Agency recently announced that the Dan River has returned to normal. They said that chemical levels have returned to normal and that it is once again producing safe drinking water.

In spite of this, the Southern Environmental Law Center has vowed to continue pressuring Duke Energy to clean up all of the coal-ash sites along the Dan River. They are also determined to make sure that the Charlotte-based company is properly penalized by the North Carolina state legislature.

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