AP: Virginia town hit hard by Duke Energy coal ash spill

From the Associated Press, as printed by the NewsDaily

“Virginia City Downriver from Coal Ash Spill Suffers,” March 22

… At the Schoolfield Dam on the Dan [at Danville, Va.], the Environmental Protection Agency has found a 300-by-50-yard blanket of sludge up to 1 foot deep in some sections. The deposit is where the river is tapped by the treatment plant, which has undergone millions of dollars in upgrades in recent years.

State, city and federal officials insist the plant is filtering out the toxins in the coal ash and that tap water exceeds federal clean water standards. …

The fouling of the Dan River couldn’t have been a crueler twist for [Danville], whose past and future are defined by the river that dissects it. Handsome brick tobacco warehouses, lined up like cord wood, stand along the banks of the river downtown ready to come to life again. Mills that once hummed here once turned the waters a different hue — green and red — with dyes used in the manufacturing of textiles. …

The river had been on the rebound environmentally and city leaders have used the Dan to promote Danville as a recreational resource for canoeing and kayaking, much as Richmond has embraced the James River as a destination for outdoor enthusiasts. …

Duke Energy is responsible for a “preventable situation,” [City Council member Lee] Vogler said, and he wants it to be fully accountable for the mess it created. “They keep saying they’re going to make it right, and we plan on holding them to that,” he said.

Duke officials have been in steady communication with Danville officials and have had “important conversations” about making amends, spokeswoman Paige Sheehan said. …

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