Dan River Coal Ash Spill CONTINUOUS UPDATES
Jan 19, 2015

January 19, 2015 Delegate Danny Marshall introduces Coal Ash Legislation.

Delegate Danny Marshall has introduced HB1846 Coal Combustion Residuals at the Virginia General Assembly. The bill has two main purposes:

1. Quick reporting, within 1 hour, of any leakage of Coal Combustion Residuals (like coal ash) to the Department of Environmental Quality, the Virginia Department of Health and local emergency services.

2. Requirement for operators of electric generating facilities and landfills that have a spill to test the private wells and springs withing a specified radius of the spill. 

 

November 1, 2014  Public Comments Open Until November 14, 2014
 
The public is invited to review and comment on potential restoration opportunities in the Dan River watershed area. The Dan River Scoping Document for Restoration Planning, prepared by Virginia DEQ, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources, provides information and ideas in response to the coal ash spill. Comments and proposals are due by November 14, 2014. 

Any ideas for projects should include details about how the project addresses natural resource or service injuries, estimated costs, anticipated benefits, implementation timing and readiness, and the potential to benefit more than one natural resource or ecological service.
 
Written comments are encouraged. Comments on this scoping document and the proposed restoration
project concepts described in this document and/or any additional restoration proposals are requested
to be submitted to the agency contacts below by November 14, 2014: Please contact Sara Ward, U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service, Raleigh Ecological Services Field Office, 919-856 4520, Ext. 30,
Sara_Ward@fws.gov, or Susan Lingenfelser, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Virginia Ecological Services Field Office, 804-824-2415, Susan_Lingenfelser@fws.gov.
 
Scoping Document:

For more information, visit the Dan River Coal Ash Spill web page at
 
 
 
October 3, 2014 Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration for Dan River
 
To restore fish and wildlife resources affected by the Feb. 2, 2014, Dan River coal ash spill, several state and federal agencies have initiated a Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration plan cooperatively with Duke Energy, the party responsible for the spill. The government participants --Virginia DEQ, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources -- have been an integral part of the response to the coal ash spill. The participants are continuing their work by conducting the assessment and restoration to evaluate the impact of the spill on natural resources and ultimately to restore the affected resources.
 
June 3, 2014 Overview of Virginia Department of Environmental Quality Monitoring Plan:

DEQ has developed a long-term monitoring plan to test for potential effects of the Dan River coal ash spill on water, sediment and fish. The plan for 2014 includes these steps:

  • DEQ began monthly water and sediment sampling at six locations on the river and two stations on Kerr Lake in April. Results are expected this summer.
  • Fish tissue collection will start in June and run through August.
  • Testing of other aquatic life in the river will take place at two stations in May and August.
  • DEQ is coordinating with the Dan River Basin Association to have additional testing done at several locations. This information should be helpful in identifying the potential need for DEQ to do follow-up monitoring.
 
May 23, 2014 Long-Term Monitoring Plan
 
Virginia DEQ has developed a long-term monitoring plan to test for potential effects of the Dan River coal ash spill on water, fish and sediment. More information is available on the DEQ website at http://www.deq.virginia.gov/ConnectWithDEQ/EnvironmentalInformation/DanRiverCoalAshSpill.aspx.
 
 
 
March 21, 2014 Closing Abreu-Grogan Park for Clean Up. Information from the City of Danville
 
Through its testing activities, Duke Energy has discovered a coal ash deposit on the Dan River bottom just upstream from the Schoolfield Dam.  The area of ash deposit is estimated at 350 yards by 50 yards with thicknesses ranging from trace amounts to 13 inches.  The company has requested use of Abreu-Grogan Park as an operational area for personnel and equipment involved in the coal ash removal.  Duke Energy is seeking necessary permits and working with our staff on a legal agreement for use of the property.  We will be finalizing discussions with Duke today or Monday and issuing a media release to the public soon thereafter.  Duke has agreed to do all it can to minimize damage to the park and repair any damage it does. 
 
Duke’s contractor would like to get access to the site as early as next week to begin mobilization.  The work would last up three months, during which the public would be denied access to Abreu-Grogan Park.  The scale of operations will be too large to parcel out a portion of the park and road access for the company’s use.  The park is very popular, but it is very important that the coal ash deposit be removed as soon as safely possible.  It is right across the river from our water treatment plant raw water outtake facilities.  There is no way around closing Abreu-Grogan Park in order to get this coal ash deposit off the river bottom.
 
EPA’s latest incident report was just released.  See https://www.epaosc.org/sites/9065/files/edencoalash_polrep_3.htm

March 18, 2014  DEQ Slide Show Information 

Please follow the link to see a slide show with information about the Coal Ash Spill:

http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Portals/0/DEQ/ConnectwithDEQ/EnvironmentalInformation/DanvillePublicMtgMarch18.pdf

Briefing for Legislators : Legislators Get Update on Dan River Coal Ash Spill -

Delegate Danny Marshall facilitated a second meeting to update legislators and the public about the current status of the Dan River contamination from a Duke Energy coal ash spill at Eden, NC, which has moved downstream to affect Virginia waters for more than 30 miles. The Honorable Molly Ward, Secretary of Natural Resources, and several agency representatives gave updates and answered questions. Joining Delegate Marshall in the discussion were Delegates Les Adams, James Edmunds, Ed Scott, Tony Wilt, and Tommy Wright, along with Senators John Cosgrove and Frank Ruff.

Those providing detailed information were Molly Ward, Secretary of Natural Resources; Dr. David Trump, Acting Chief Deputy Commissioner, Virginia Department of Health; John Aulbach II, Director of Drinking Water; David Paylor, Director of the Department of Environmental Quality; Bob Duncan, Director of the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries; David Whitehurst, Director of Wildlife Resources; and John Daniel, Office of the Attorney General.

Delegate Danny Marshall stated, “We must do our best to recover from this damage and to be constantly vigilant to detect future problems. I appreciate our state agencies reacting quickly, making this a top priority and keeping us informed.”

Secretary Ward reported that Virginia Department of Environmental Quality workers have been on site since the incident was reported. She stated that there have been attempts to recover ash, but that the river has been so high and turbulent, that most of the ash dispersed.

Also, Secretary Ward stated that several Virginia agencies will be meeting with Duke Energy on Friday. She indicated that Virginia is expecting Duke Energy to take full responsibility, “There will be enforcement actions and civil penalty.” All Virginia agencies and localities that have already incurred, and will in the future incur, costs are to document and report them to the Department of Environmental Quality.

David Paylor, Director of the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) reported that they have collected fish samples and will have more test results coming in. He said that current tests indicate the fish do not show tissue contamination. They will continue testing. Mr. Paylor reported that they have briefings with the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) next week.

The idea of meeting with the Tennessee Valley Authority came up at a previous meeting when Delegate Marshall reminded the group of a spill in Tennessee that happened about 5 years ago, and suggested that Virginia should reach out and learn from those who have already experienced a spill. Hearing about the TVA actions, successes and even warnings could be very beneficial as Virginia moves forward.

When asked how the public could trust test results, since some tests by Duke Energy had errors, Mr. Paylor assured the group that DEQ operates independently and their scientists are following standard procedures. They have relied on DEQ tests, not the Duke Energy tests.

John Aulbach, Director of the Office of Drinking water, reported that they have had extra staff continually taking samples of the drinking water since the spill incident. There has been simultaneous independent testing. His department has performed the tests in Richmond, while Danville had an independent private analysis. Both results have deemed the drinking water to be safe.

John Daniel, representing the Virginia Attorney General’s Office, reinforced Secretary Ward’s statement that Virginia will keep records of all costs, consolidate those records and report them in a timely way, so that Duke Energy can be held fully accountable. Virginia is currently evaluating all legal avenues in regards to making sure Duke Energy is held 100% accountable.

 

Spot Report #6; 5 March 2014; at 3:00 PM

2014-02-02 Coal Ash Spill

New information is in bold.

Summary: On February 2, 2014, Duke Energy identified that coal ash and ash pond water were leaking from a broken storm water management pipe at the Duke Energy facility, Eden, NC into the Dan River in Rockingham County, NC.  The leak occurred approximately 15-20 miles upstream of the water treatment plant intake on the Dan River for the City of Danville, Virginia.

A Unified Command has been established that includes U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (NCDENR), Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Virginia Department of Health (VDH) Office of Drinking Water (ODW), and Duke Energy.

Duke Energy officials continue work to permanently seal the 36 and 48-inch drainage pipes located beneath the primary ash pond.  No active leakage is occurring from these pipes into the Dan River.  An assessment of the coal ash deposits along the river conducted by Duke Energy and US Fish and Wildlife showed accumulated ash deposits of up to five inches mainly on sand bars in the first two miles from the ash pond, up to two inches from that point to the City of Danville Water Treatment Plant, and up to one-half an inch to the Kerr Reservoir.  Duke, EPA, and the Army Corps of Engineers will determine what, if any, ash will be targeted for removal from the river.     

Anticipated Issues

  • Potential impacts to drinking water and marine life.

State Actions

  • VDH and Virginia DEQ officials attended a meeting on February 26 to develop an assessment plan, review data, and begin discussion of a long-term monitoring plan.  Participants included officials from Duke Energy, EPA, Army Corps of Engineers, NCDENR, US Fish and Wildlife, City of Danville, Town of South Boston, and Town of Clarksville.
  • VDH and Virginia DEQ have posted a total of 24 hazard warning signs along the river at public access points in Danville and South Boston.
  • ODW worked with EPA, City of Danville, and Halifax County Service Authority to finalize an updated water sampling strategy.  Duke Energy Sampling and Analysis Plan Summary
  • VDH continues to evaluate water samples and fish tissue results.
  • VDH continues to share situational awareness with NC Division of Public Health, Department of Health and Human Services

VDEM/VEOC

  • Routine Operations.  VDEM IMC continues to monitor the situation.

Prepared by: VERT Planning Section

 

Spot Report #4 11 February 2014 at 4:00 PM

2014-02-02 Coal Ash Spill

Summary: On February 2, 2014, Duke Energy identified that coal ash and ash pond water were leaking from a broken storm water management line at the Duke Energy facility, Eden, NC into the Dan River in Rockingham County, NC.  The leak occurred approximately 15-20 miles upstream of the water treatment plant intake on the Dan River for the City of Danville, Virginia.

 

A Unified Command has been established that includes U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Virginia Department of Health Office of Drinking Water, and Duke Energy.

 

Duke Energy and EPA officials report that the concrete grout plug in the storm drain pipe is effectively stopping any additional flow from entering the Dan River.  Work continues to excavate the bottom of the coal ash pond to seal the remainder of the pipe, and is expected to last through the week.  EPA Region 3 has coordinated a public meeting in the Danville area to be held this evening, Tuesday, February 11.  Due to the forecast of heavy snow, EPA has rescheduled the February 13th community meeting for South Boston until next week (date TBD).

 

Due to the approaching winter weather, daily Spot Reports on this event will be suspended until the winter weather event has concluded unless significant changes occur.

 

Anticipated Issues

 

  • Potential impact to drinking water.

 

Local Actions

 

  • No issues reported with treated drinking water at the Danville, South Boston, or Clarksville water treatment plants.

 

State Actions

 

  • DEQ Director David Paylor and Secretary of Natural Resources Molly Ward were scheduled to meet with Danville officials at 3:30 p.m. today.
  • The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) Office of Drinking Water reports that the most recent sampling of water for Danville and South Boston indicates that samples are in compliance with applicable standards.
  • VDH Office of Drinking Water remains engaged with impacted localities, Duke Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency, and NC Emergency Management officials.
  • VA DEQ reports sampling in the river and at water facilities continues.
  • VA DEQ remains on scene along with EPA, NCDENR, US Fish and Wildlife, and Duke Energy

 

VDEM/VEOC

 

  • Increased Readiness (due to winter weather).  VDEM IMC continues to monitor the situation.

 

Update February 10, 5:00 PM - Drinking Water, Fish Consumption, Skin Contact

Following up on the information that was provided to you yesterday, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) has prepared the following update:

 

Drinking Water

The VDH Office of Drinking Water has received recent finished drinking water quality results from the Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services. These results are from samples collected following all treatment at the City of Danville and South Boston water treatment plants. These results indicate for the constituents analyzed, including the heavy metals of concern due to coal ash, that the treated water quality remains in compliance with the requirements of the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Commonwealth of Virginia Waterworks Regulations.  The water treatment plant operators and utility staffs have performed extremely well, under adverse circumstances, to ensure a safe and adequate supply of water continues to be provided to their consumers.

 

Fish Consumption

VDH has an existing fish consumption advisory that extends from Danville to the Kerr Reservoir (Virginia side) and includes parts of the Hyco River and Banister River.  These river segments contain species of fish with elevated levels of methylmercury and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). A list of affected fish species can be found on VDH website.

 

Based on the information we have to date, there is no need to change the current fish consumption advisory for the Dan River.  In general, inorganic metals (such as the ones that are found in coal ash) do not accumulate in fish to any significant degree and are rarely seen at levels of human health concern. To reduce potential exposure to inorganic metals in fish, VDH advises to only eat fish tissue and to discard any organs.  Inorganic mercury can be converted to its organic form, methylmercury, in the environment by microorganisms.  Over time, this methylmercury accumulates in fish.   A measureable  increase in methylmercury fish tissue concentration would not occur for a couple of years and would depend on the amount of mercury present in the environment.  VDH will evaluate fish tissue data when it becomes available.  The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality is the primary agency for collecting fish to be reviewed by VDH for fish consumption advisories.

 

Recreational Water Use

VDH recommends exercising caution when using the Dan River for primary contact purposes (swimming, boating, kayaking, etc). River water is being monitored for any coal ash contaminants. At this time, the monitored levels do not indicate that accidental ingestion (or acute exposure) of river water will result in any illness. However, direct contact with coal ash may cause minor skin irritation. Avoid contact with submerged or floating ash and if ash is contacted, wash off with soap and water.

 

The VDH Division of Environmental Epidemiology will continue to work with other state agencies that monitor levels of any contaminants over time, to determine if there would be any risk.  Based on the levels of metals detected in the river water, we would not expect there to be significant health risks associated with recreational water use.

 

 

Sincerely,

 

Joe Hilbert

Director of Governmental and Regulatory Affairs

Virginia Department of Health

 

The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) is providing this additional information concerning the coal ash spill on the Dan River, and issues pertaining to fish consumption, as a follow-up to the meeting that VDH attended at the request of several of you earlier today.

 

VDH has an existing fish consumption advisory that extends from Danville to the Kerr Reservoir (Virginia side) and includes parts of the Hyco River and Banister River.  These river segments contain species of fish with elevated levels of methylmercury and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). A list of affected fish species can be found on VDH website.

 

Based on the information we have to date, there is no need to change the current fish consumption advisory for the Dan River.  In general, inorganic metals (such as the ones that are found in coal ash) do not accumulate in fish to any significant degree and are rarely seen at levels of human health concern. To reduce potential exposure to inorganic metals in fish, VDH advises to only eat fish tissue and to discard any organs.  Inorganic mercury can be converted to its organic form, methylmercury, in the environment by microorganisms.  Over time, this methylmercury accumulates in fish.   A measureable  increase in methylmercury fish tissue concentration would not occur for a couple of years and would depend on the amount of mercury present in the environment.  VDH will evaluate fish tissue data when it becomes available.  The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality is the primary agency for collecting fish to be reviewed by VDH for fish consumption advisories.

 

As an additional informational resource, VDH has posted response to a series of Frequently Asked Questions concerning the coal ash spill on its website http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/news/pdf/Coal%20Ash%20Release%20Fact%20Sheet.pdf

 

Sincerely,

 

Joe Hilbert

Director of Governmental and Regulatory Affairs

Virginia Department of Health

 

Monday, 2/10/13 4:23 PM Update on Dan River coal ash spill:

  • Duke Energy has successfully plugged a large section of the damaged stormwater pipe and the coal ash discharge to the river has ceased.  Next steps are to access the remaining pipe, internally camera-inspect and determine what will be required to clear the pipe for complete grouting (plugging).

                                                                                                                                                               

  • DEQ and VDH-Office of Drinking Water continue to provide a presence on-site, along with Federal EPA (Regions 3 and 4) and US Fish and Wildlife, along with NC Dept. of Environment & Natural Resources and Duke Energy.
  • Director Paylor and SNR Ward will meet with Danville officials at 2:00 PM on Tuesday, February 11th.
  • EPA setting up “public availability meetings”:
    • Tuesday Feb. 11th, in Danville, at 6:30 PM in the City Council Chambers (4th floor) of the Danville Municipal Building located at 427 Patton St, Danville, VA 24541; Director Paylor, SNR Ward, DEQ and VDH staff will attend.
    • Wednesday Feb. 12th, in Eden, NC, time (evening)/location to be announced.
    • Thursday Feb. 13th in South Boston, VA,  time (evening)/location to be announced.

 

  • Duke Energy  is preparing a plan to recover a large ash deposit from the river immediately below the coal ash discharge point; removal would be performed from the river bank and may begin as early as tomorrow, pending Army Corps of Engineering approval.

 

  • Duke Energy has made a proposal to reduce water treatment plant sampling from every 6 hours to every 12 hours based on water quality returning to and remaining at pre-impact levels; DEQ and VDH support this proposal pending approval by water treatment plant operators. DEQ requested that Duke be prepared to increase the sampling rate during storm events (which could remobilize ash deposits).

 

  • DEQ is planning to conduct surface water sampling on Tuesday, February 11th.  Monitoring will be done at four locations along the Dan River in Virginia; samples will be analyzed for total and dissolved metals with results available in one week.  An attempt will be made early next week to collect fish tissue samples in selected locations.

 

  • Snow is predicted for Wednesday, February 12th, which will likely result in suspension of field operations.

 

 

David K. Paylor, Director
Dept. Environmental Quality

 

 

February 10, 2014 1:05 PM Update: Coal Ash Spill in Dan River

From: Paylor, David (DEQ)
Sent: Monday, February 10, 2014 1:05 PM

Subject: Update on North Carolina Coal Ash Spill

This is to give you an summary of Virginia’s response to the coal ash spill from a Duke Energy site in Eden, North Carolina.  As soon as the incident was reported, we notified the Danville Public Utility to begin testing of drinking water quality.  DEQ also dispatched staff to the river.  I was in contact with my counterpart in North Carolina and the President of Duke Energy.  EPA Region IV was summoned to the scene and they proceeded to set up a Unified Command which is made up of NCDENR, EPA, Duke Energy, VaDEQ, and USFWS.  DEQ has a representative on-site to assist in coordinating the response.

From the outset, Danville worked with VDH to assess drinking water quality.  The treatment system performed well and drinking water quality has not been compromised throughout the event.  VDH and the City continue to frequently monitor the quality of the drinking water.

Ongoing releases from the NC facility have been halted.  Surface water quality results continue to trend in a positive direction getting closer to background.  Data sampling for Kerr Reservoir was initiated today and sampling points are being expanded.

There has been no incidence of fish kills or other acute environmental damage in the Dan River in Virginia.  Once the indent is stabilized a longer term assessment of environmental damage will be led by the state and federal agencies which will lead to compensatory action.

Opportunities for remediation are being discussed by the Unified Command at this time and US Army Corps of Engineers is being consulted as they will have to approve any potential removal of in-stream coal ash.

As you know public meetings are scheduled this week in Danville and South Boston to answer any questions the citizens may have. The EPA and the Commonwealth of Virginia are hosting a public briefing on the Duke-Energy coal ash release at the Danville City Council Chambers on Tuesday, 02/11/2014, at 6:30 pm.  It is my understanding that the South Boston briefing is still in the planning stages targeting Thursday night of this week.

I’ve attached the latest Situation Report from EPA to give you more detail on the current status of the incident.  DEQ and VDH continue to be fully involved with NC and EPA in response, assessment and remediation. EPA has established a web site which is updated at least daily:  http://www.epaosc.org/site/site_profile.aspx?site_id=9065   Please let me know what other questions or continuing concerns you have.  I will keep you updated as things progress.  David

David K. Paylor, Director
Dept. Environmental Quality