News | June 25, 2015

VA coal ash settlement with Duke Energy amounts to a slap on the wrist

Despite vocal community opposition, including from the City of Danville, today the Virginia Water Control Board rubber-stamped a slap-on-the-wrist settlement with Duke Energy related to its 2014 Dan River coal ash spill.

The spill, the third-largest in the nation’s history, released 39,000 tons of toxic coal ash and coated approximately 80 miles of the river, including the popular recreation areas like Kerr Reservoir and sections of the Dan designated a Virginia Scenic River.

The $2.5 million settlement accepted today is less than 1 percent of the estimated $295 million in damages caused by the spill, according to a Wake Forest University study. More than 90 percent of the coal ash remains in the river.

Today’s decision shows that we still have a long way to go in Virginia to begin to grapple with the problem of how power companies are managing millions of tons of toxic coal ash stored alongside our rivers. At numerous other coal ash sites throughout Virginia, utilities are still relying on the unsafe practice of storing coal ash in leaking pits close to important waterways.

Read the Associated Press story by Steve Szkotak “Virginia OKs $2.5M coal ash spill settlement with Duke” in the Washington Post.