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N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources

NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Guest - Dan River Spill

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Dam Safety

Videos of pipe inspections at coal ash pond dams - June 20, 2014
 
Notices of Deficiency issued by state dam safety officials to Duke Energy June 2014

Notices of Inspection issued by state dam safety officials to Duke Energy June 2014

Duke Energy responses to Notices of Deficiency and Notices of Inspection

Additional Correspondence

March 5 letter sent to Duke Energy requesting plans and video of pipes
Letter sent to Duke Energy Feb. 14 regarding 36-inch stormwater pipe
Duke Energy's response received Feb. 24
DENR's response to Duke Energy's Feb. 24 letter

 

Additional Videos 

Stormwater pipe inspection video part 1
Stormwater pipe inspection video part 2

Diagram of an earthen dam

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Impacts to livestock and irrigation downstream of the spill

Using projections of water-quality trends based on hundreds of water analyses made during a 40-day period following the release of approximately 39,000 tons of coal ash into the Dan River on Feb. 2, 2014, North Carolina State University soil scientists conclude that the river water is suitable for use as irrigation water on crops and as drinking water for livestock. Researchers caution, however, that flooding, drought conditions or other episodic events in or around the river could change the conditions measurably. The N.C. State University study can be found on the NCSU website.

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Coal Ash Task Force

In response to the recent coal ash spill at Duke Energy’s Dan River facility in Eden, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources formed an internal coal ash task force. The group is charged with assessing coal ash basins statewide and developing procedures to prevent future environmental disasters at these facilities. The task force is comprised of DENR staff specialists from all divisions that regulate coal ash, as well as members of the department’s senior administration.

DENR Task Force Members

 

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NPDES Permit for Dan River

Letter sent to Duke Energy Feb. 25 regarding NPDES permit

NPDES permit for Dan River facility


Facilities that discharge wastewater to streams, lakes and other state waters are regulated through National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System – or NPDES – permits. The permits include federal and state regulatory requirements for the protection of human health and aquatic life. In North Carolina, electrical generating facilities that have coal ash ponds are also required to monitor groundwater in accordance with the state's regulatory program. This document contains groundwater monitoring data for the Dan River facility from Jan. 2010 - Feb. 2014.

DENR's Division of Water Resources has more information about coal ash regulation

What is in coal ash and the wastewater discharge?

During the last five years the following parameters have been monitored by the Dan River facility in association with their federal discharge permit: Arsenic, Selenium, Copper, Iron, Sulfate, temperature, pH, Total Suspended Solids, oil and grease and nutrients including nitrogen and phosphorus. They have also been required to perform Whole Effluent Toxicity testing – a test that uses the entire waste stream at different concentrations to evaluate its effect on aquatic life.

The wastewater is analyzed, in accordance with EPA guidance, for its potential to be noncompliant with state water quality standards. The analysis of data indicates that the concentration of the compounds monitored at the Dan River facility is significantly lower than what is allowed by EPA. The Dan River facility has also consistently passed all quarterly Whole Effluent Toxicity tests.

Ash has a large variety of constituents, it is mostly consists of silicon oxide, iron oxide, and aluminum oxide. But it also has trace amounts of arsenic, selenium, mercury, boron, thallium, cadmium, chlorides, bromine, magnesium, chromium, copper nickel, and other metals.

The ash composition varies widely depending on the coal type and origin, burning regime, air pollution control equipment, etc. 

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For More Information

Visit the Dan River incident news release page, or follow us on Twitter for the latest updates regarding the spill.

DENR's Division of Water Resources has more information about coal ash regulation

Flickr photo set

EPA website on Dan River spill

Duke Energy website on Dan River spill  

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