Newly Found Coal Ash Spill Pouring Arsenic Into NC River

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The Dan River in Danville, approximately 20 miles downstream of the spill, was left dark and cloudy from the first release of tens of thousands of tons of coal ash. (Photo: Eric Chance / Appalachian Voices)

North Carolina authorities believe that a second storm pipe has burst at the Eden coal ash dumping pond owned by Duke Energy, sending another mass discharge of arsenic and lead-laden waste into the Dan River, which is still severely polluted from a similar spill in early February.

The N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources announced Tuesday that it had made the discovery while investigating the site. Their statement noted “elevated levels of arsenic” in the water.

“Given what we’ve seen, we’re concerned that this second stormwater pipe on site may also be leaking water contaminated with coal ash pollutants into the Dan River,” said Tom Reeder, director of the N.C. Division of Water Resources. “As such, we are ordering Duke Energy to eliminate this unauthorized discharge immediately.”

The revelation came the same day the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service revealed that the bottom of the Dan River is coated in coal ash up to 70 miles downstream of the Duke Energy ash dump, likely presenting a short and long-term danger to aquatic animals.

The first pipe leak sent tens of thousands of tons of coal ash into the Dan River, which flows through North Carolina and Virginia and serves as a source of drinking water and outdoor recreation. The disaster shined a light on the dangers of numerous coal ash dumps in North Carolina and across the United States that have largely evaded regulation.

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Contributed by Sarah Lazare of Common Dreams.

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