Duke Energy President Faces Frustrated Community To Discuss Coal - WSET.com - ABC13

Duke Energy President Faces Frustrated Community To Discuss Coal Ash Spill


Danville, VA - Danville City Council members say it is a "huge setback" for one of the city's top tourist attractions.

They wonder what effects the Duke Energy coal ash spill will have on the Dan River and how long they'll last.

Officials from Duke Energy came to Danville to face those officials Friday.

When Duke Energy President Paul Newton took the floor, he started with two words: "We apologize."

Newton expressed his regret over the coal ash spill that leaked thousands of gallons of sludge into the Dan River, but he says Duke Energy will fix it.

"We take full responsibility. We are accountable and we will make it right, " Newton said. 

The leakage has stopped and daily water tests show the river water is safe, but that wasn't enough to satisfy city council members.

"Many questions were answered.  Some were not, " said Mayor Sherman Saunders.

Saunders raised a question about on-going water testing. Newton says they plan to test the water indefinitely, but could not say much more about their future plans to help with the potential loss of tourism or property values.

"It's a lot we don't know. I think that's what bothers all of us, " said Andrew Lester with the Roanoke River Basin Association. 

Another concern was voiced by a local resident who referenced a Tennessee River coal ash spill in 2008 that led to a the death of thousands of marine animals.

"It has taken us 20 years to get the river to the place where it is today. We have beautiful birds. We have great blue herons, we have eagles. We're going to lose it all, " she said.

Newton says he understands the community's frustration, but he wants folks to know they will use all the time and resources necessary to make sure the Dan River doesn't suffer.

"We're not going anywhere. We've been in North Carolina for 109 years. We're going to see this thing to the end and we will make it right, " Newton said.

Newton says this spill is only 2% of the size of the Tennessee River spill. The City of Danville is conducting their own independent tests on the water and will continue to do so to make sure it stays safe.


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