Danville leaders to hear from EPA on massive spill

In this Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014 photo, a fresh-water muscle rests along the banks of the Dan River as state and federal environmental officials continued their investigations of a spill of coal ash in Eden, N.C. Duke Energy estimates that up to 82,000 tons of ash were released from a break in a 48-inch storm water pipe at the Dan River Power Plant. Over the last year, environmental groups have tried three times to use the federal Clean Water Act to force Duke Energy to clear out leaky coal ash dumps. Each time, the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources has effectively halted the lawsuit by intervening at the last minute to assert its own authority to take enforcement action. In two cases, the state has proposed modest fines but no requirement that the nation’s largest electricity provider actually clean up the coal ash ponds. The third case is pending. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
In this Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014 photo, a fresh-water muscle rests along the banks of the Dan River as state and federal environmental officials continued their investigations of a spill of coal ash in Eden, N.C. Duke Energy estimates that up to 82,000 tons of ash were released from a break in a 48-inch storm water pipe at the Dan River Power Plant. Over the last year, environmental groups have tried three times to use the federal Clean Water Act to force Duke Energy to clear out leaky coal ash dumps. Each time, the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources has effectively halted the lawsuit by intervening at the last minute to assert its own authority to take enforcement action. In two cases, the state has proposed modest fines but no requirement that the nation’s largest electricity provider actually clean up the coal ash ponds. The third case is pending. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

DANVILLE, Va. (AP) — Federal environmental officials are expected to give an update on a massive coal ash spill to members of the Danville City Council.

Representatives of the Environmental Protection Agency will brief city leaders Tuesday night. Officials from state and local agencies are also expected to attend.

The spill was discovered on Feb. 2 after a security guard patrolling the grounds of Duke Energy’s Dan River Steam Station discovered that a pipe under a 27-acre toxic waste pond had collapsed.

The North Carolina utility reports that up to 82,000 tons of coal ash mixed with 27 million gallons of contaminated water drained out, turning the river gray and cloudy for miles.

The accident ranks as the third largest such coal ash spill in the nation’s history.

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