DENR continues testing of Dan River after coal-ash spill

Press release from the North Carolina
Department of Natural Resources and Environment

State test results of water quality sampling near coal ash spill released

RALEIGH – State test results completed Thursday for a number of water quality parameters, including 17 metals, show no violations of state water quality standards for most samples taken Monday and Tuesday near the site of the coal ash spill in Eden. Test results for the remaining parameters will be released as soon as they are available.

One metal, copper, was above the state action level surface water standard both Monday and Tuesday. Because copper is a naturally occurring element in North Carolina waters, action level exceedances are used to trigger further investigation. While levels of copper decreased significantly on Tuesday, the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources will continue to monitor copper and the other elements.

North Carolina has established its federally approved water quality standards based on scientific data designed to protect human health and the aquatic environment.

“The Dan River does not have a clean bill of health,” said Tom Reeder, director of the N.C. Division of Water Resources. “We continue to monitor the situation and are especially concerned about the deposition of coal ash residuals in the sediments underlying the Dan River and how that could affect the long-term health of the river.”

DENR is still waiting on metals analysis to be completed for boron, titanium, vanadium, iron, cobalt, beryllium, aluminum, selenium, lithium, manganese and strontium. A monitoring plan to characterize coal ash in the river bed and along the river banks is in development and will be implemented in the coming days, as well.

This week, DENR has been conducting water quality sampling upstream and downstream of the site of the coal ash spill at the Dan River Steam Station in Eden. The agency will continue conducting water quality sampling and evaluation in the Dan River for as long as necessary.

Tests for all of the water quality parameters are not complete. State officials will release the remaining results as soon as they are available. In total, DENR’s state laboratory has been analyzing water samples from the Dan River for sulfates, nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus), total suspended solids and 28 metals.

DENR staff created a web page where they will publicize the water sampling results. Visit this page to find the most recent water quality results at: or click on the “Dan River spill” tab on the home page. Duke Energy is also conducting sampling near the site of the spill. DENR staff members continued Wednesday to support Duke Energy’s efforts at finding a permanent solution to seal the broken stormwater pipe that released ash to the river. Duke Energy reports that flow of coal ash to the river has significantly decreased since the spill began.


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