Risks Remain until Dan River Coal Ash is Removed from Unlined Pits
As the ongoing environmental crisis intensifies around the Duke Energy coal ash spill along the Virginia-North Carolina border, officials with the U.S. EPA have announced they will hold a briefing in Danville, Virginia tonight to share their latest updates. The spill, which was first reported by Duke Energy on Monday, February 3rd, has released enough toxic sludge into the Dan River to fill 73 Olympic-sized pools, making it the nation’s third largest coal ash spill ever.
The Southern Environmental Law Center has now released an interactive map that details the ongoing risk to drinking water intakes downstream from the Dan River spill: http://cdb.io/1azMQSH, as well as a map that shows the risk to drinking water intakes downstream from coal ash pits across the region: http://cdb.io/1neAekg.
“People along the Dan River in North Carolina and Virginia will remain at risk until Duke Energy removes its coal ash from its dangerous, leaking, and illegally polluting coal ash lagoons on the Dan River,” said Frank Holleman, a senior attorney who represents several conservation groups in legal actions regarding Duke Energy’s coal ash pollution across the Carolinas.
“Given the damage to Virginia waters that has already occurred, the best option for mitigating future harm is to move the toxic coal ash out of these unlined, earthen pits and into dry, lined landfills away from the rivers and lakes we rely on for drinking water and recreation,” said Cale Jaffe, director of the Virginia office of the Southern Environmental Law Center.
Following lawsuits by the Southern Environmental Law Center, two of the three utilities in the Carolinas—South Carolina Electric & Gas and Santee Cooper—are removing coal ash from unlined pits near rivers to safer dry, lined storage facilities away from rivers and lakes. Neither utility has raised its rates for taking responsible action. The Dan River site is one of fourteen coal ash sites managed by Duke Energy that are the subject of similar lawsuits ongoing in North Carolina state court.
EPA officials will hold a briefing tonight for the Danville community at 6:30 pm at the Danville Community Municipal Building. Representatives from the Southern Environmental Law Center’s Virginia and North Carolina offices will be present.