Many Wonder If Coal Ash Leak In River Could Have Been Prevented - - ABC13

Many Wonder If Coal Ash Leak In River Could Have Been Prevented


Danville, VA - ABC 13 has learned that this is not the first time Duke Energy has had problems with a coal ash pond, but many say this is by far the most severe leak in the company's history.

Duke Energy says it is leaking intermittently as of Thursday afternoon. Company officials say the leak was first found by a security guard who noticed the pond levels were low. Crews are now working to put a stop to it.

With coal ash still leaking into the Dan River, many wonder if the leak could have been prevented.

"We are accountable and we are committed to putting all the necessary resources needed to stop this leak. We will not stop until this work is complete," said Meghan Musgrave, Spokesperson for Duke Energy.

Duke Energy representatives say the Dan River plant opened decades ago, before companies were using liners for the ash ponds. After the plant closed in 2012, the ash pond remained.

"Having it that close to the river, I do believe was a disaster waiting to happen," said Brian Williams, Program Manager with Dan River Basin Association.

Duke, however, says they regularly monitor the pond and have found high levels of some heavy metals which they tell us already exist in North Carolina soil. What they couldn't answer was the last time the storm drain pipe, which opened and caused this leak, was inspected.

"It's disturbing, the emotional impact hasn't even set in with us," said Williams.

The North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources filed a lawsuit against Duke Energy last year. While still in litigation, the Department claimed that there were potentially dangerous violations at the Dan River plant as well as 11 others.

Duke representatives would not comment about the pending litigation but say moving forward, they hope to prevent another leak like this.

"We are looking to cleaner ways to store ash and not have problems like this in the future," said Musgrave.

ABC 13 asked Duke Energy if they plan to have a clean up or just let the ash take care of itself in the Dan River. They said right now they are just focused on containing the spill and were not sure of their next move.

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