People Attend Educational Event About Coal Ash Spill

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Nearly 40,000 tons and 70 miles - that's how much and how far coal ash spilled into the Dan River.

The ash isn't just floating on the surface anymore. It's sinking to the bottom and causing even more concerns for some people.

Nearly 200 people showed up at Wake Forest University on Friday to listen to professional and non-profit groups that are monitoring the spill.

"Obviously it's a concern because of the drinking water and I'm also a big hiker, I like to kayak, I spend time on the Dan River and its always concerning when one of our water ways is in danger like that," explained Carol Hildebrandt, Belews Creek Resident.

"What we wanted to do was provide an opportunity for people to come and hear from the local environmental groups, the national environmental groups that have been on the ground, responding to the coal ash spill, documenting what's happened, taking water samples, and then we also wanted to give folks an opportunity to talk and ask questions," explained Jenny Edwards, Dan River Basin Association.

The Dan River Basin Association hosted the event. It is testing macro-vertebrate in the river to get an idea of how the pollution is affecting all the river's wildlife.

"It tells us that ability of that river to support life. Everything relies on those bugs, all the way up to human life. We all count on the macro-vertebrate. They're toward the bottom of the food chain and that's where we are starting to look," explained Edwards.

"My number one concern is that there is still not a plan for cleaning up the coal ash out of the river and the 32 coal ash ponds in North Carolina," said Dean Naujoks, Yadkin Riverkeeper.

Naujoks says if the coal ash stays in the river, there will likely be public health problems.

"What's going to happen is the little fish and the smaller critters will be accumulating this stuff and as the larger predatory fish, catfish and particularly large-mouth bass, start eating the smaller fish," explained Naujoks. "It's called biomagnification. It actually increases up through the food chain so by the time it gets to a human or a bald eagle, the levels are so great that it can cause public health problems ."

Naujoks says the only way to clean the river is to dredge it.

Duke Energy has not decided how it will clean the river but it has promised it will be done.

Earlier this week, the NC Department of Environmental Resources gave the company 60-days to turn in a plan to prevent another leak.

READ:Violations Issued Against Duke Energy For Coal Ash Spill

READ: Iron and Aluminum Levels in Dan River Continue to Decrease

READ: McCrory Pressures Duke Energy on Coal Ash Spill

READ:Duke Energy: Customers Will Not Be Charged in Coal Ash Spill


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