DANVILLE, V.A. -- Some people in Danville, Virginia are concerned about their drinking water. They're worried because there is still coal ash flowing through the Dan River.
About 50,000 tons of coal ash spilled from Duke Energy's storm water pipe beneath an ash basin at the retired Dan River Steam Station in Eden, N.C. The spill was in Rockingham County and the coal ash is spreading to Danville.
The city says the water is safe to drink, but some residents aren't so sure.
"This greyish, silvery stuff has started accumulating," said John Tulli, of Danville. Tulli and his son, Cody, couldn't believe what they were seeing. "It's the consistency of almost like a pudding."
The mystery substance is clinging to everything along their shoreline of the Dan River. "When you look at it up close, you can actually see almost a shimmering to it. It's not natural."
They believe the goop is part of the coal ash spill just 4 1/2 miles upstream. On Thursday, an environmental agency, Waterkeeper Alliance, revealed their Dan River tests showed high levels of arsenic, chromium and other toxic metals typically found in coal ash.
Danville officials are making certain it doesn't get in the drinking water. "Our treatment plant operators were able to remove the ash that was coming into the raw water intake that was coming into the system, they were able to remove that," said Arnold Hendrix, the Public Information Officer for Danville.
Thursday night, the city learned their latest drinking water tests came back favorable, proving it's safe to drink, but some people remain skeptical. "What is this going to do in the long run?" said Cody Foster.
Several different agencies, including Duke Energy and Danville Utilities, are continuously testing the drinking water to make certain it's safe. Health officials suggest people stay off the Dan River until they know for sure. Direct contact with coal ash may cause skin irritation.
Governor Pat McCrory toured the site of the spill on Thursday. Last year, he said the state filed lawsuits against Duke Energy related to coal ash discharge from 14 locations. McCrory worked for Duke Energy for 28 years before retiring.