Coal ash not yet fully contained from NC river

In this image made Monday, Feb. 3, 2014, and released by Appalachian Voices, shows Matt Wasson, Director of Appalachian Voices as he tests the water on the Dan River near Eden, N.C. Duke Energy estimates that up to 82,000 tons of ash accidentally spilled into the river Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014. Coal ash is the waste left after burning coal. It contains arsenic, mercury, lead, and over a dozen other heavy metals, many of them toxic. (AP Photo/Appalachian Voices, HO)

EDEN, N.C. (AP/WAVY) — Duke Energy says it is diverting the flow of coal ash from reaching a North Carolina river, but the company cannot yet declare the massive spill fully contained nearly a week after it was first discovered.

Company spokeswoman Meghan Musgrave said Friday that engineers at the Dan River Steam Station have designed a containment system that is capturing nearly all of the toxic runoff and pumping it back into a storage basin. The nation’s largest electricity provider says up to 82,000 tons of coal ash mixed with 27 million gallons of contaminated water have escaped since a drainage pipe running under a 27-acre waste pond collapsed Sunday, turning the river gray for miles.

Officials 20 miles downstream in Danville, Va., say they are successfully filtering arsenic, lead and other toxins from drinking water.

Meanwhile, officials in Virginia Beach, Va., announced they had stopped drawing water from Lake Gaston, a major reservoir fed by the Dan.

On Wednesday, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe released the following statement about the spill, saying he was closely monitoring the situation.

“ I have directed the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, and the Virginia Department of Health to continue to evaluate the quality and safety of the Dan River’s water suppl,” McAuliffe said in a press release.

McAuliffe also said he spoke with North Carolina Governor McCrory, Danville Mayor Saunders and South Boston Mayor Owens earlier in the day.

“I assured the Governor and the Mayors that Virginia is ready to provide any assistance that may be necessary to protect the quality of the water supply in the areas in both states that could be affected by the spill,” McAuliffe said. “At this time, the water supply remains safe for human consumption, and we will continue to monitor the situation as it progresses.”


Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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