Environmentalists and residents of North Carolina and Virginia are anxiously waiting for toxicity test results from the Dan River, where tens of thousands of tons of coal ash spilled earlier this week. Danville's city manager has released a statement saying that while preliminary findings indicate the area drinking water is safe, they await final confirmation. North Carolina’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources has yet to provide an official determination, but people around the Dan River report that the spill was having visible and adverse effects.
The spill originated from a 27-acre pond of coal ash and slurry — the waste product of burning coal — at a defunct Duke Energy power plant along the Dan River in Eden, N.C.
Hundreds of workers are trying to cap the leaking pipe, which has so far allowed 82,000 tons of toxic ash and 27 million gallons of contaminated water to escape into the river. The flow is down to a trickle, but that’s mostly because there’s not much liquid left in the unlined coal pond.
The Dan River serves as the drinking water for about 17,500 residents of Danville, Va., and the intake pipe is just 15 miles from the Eden plant, but Danville and North Carolina officials said there were no signs that the filtered water was contaminated so far.