Appalachian Voices

The Environmental Protection Agency announced it has struck an agreement with Duke Energy to clean up coal ash from the Dan River. The EPA has been overseeing the company’s response, since a storage pond failed at a Duke coal plant in February, spilling at least 30,000 tons of the waste into the river. But the agreement binds Duke to clean up ash as the EPA directs and to reimburse the agency for its costs. EPA officials say that comes to about $800,000 for the past three-plus months of clean-up.

Appalachian Voices

Two weeks since Duke Energy crews plugged a broken stormwater pipe, stopping a leak of coal ash into the Dan River, little progress has been made on removing that ash from the river.

Ben Bradford / WFAE

A revised estimate shows less coal ash than previously thought leaked into the Dan River during a spill last week. Duke Energy now says less than 40,000 tons spilled into the river.

When that stormwater pipe burst ten days ago under a Duke Energy ash pond, the company estimated up to 82,000 tons of ash had spilled into the river, or about 8 percent of the entire pond. Water and ash continued to leak throughout the week as crews worked to plug the pipe. Regulators and Duke promised an updated number once the leak was sealed, which occurred early Saturday morning.


Officials continue to monitor water quality near the site of a coal ash spill from a retired Duke Energy plant on the Dan River in northern North Carolina. WFAE's Duncan McFadyen reports arsenic levels exceeded a state standard earlier this week.

Ben Bradford / WFAE

**UPDATE 2/8/2014 10:30 a.m.**

As of Saturday morning, Duke Energy workers have installed a permanent plug at the end of the wastewater pipe. A company representative says the "concrete-like substance" is curing. To keep pressure off of the plug as it cures, wastewater is still being pumped from the pipe and back into the coal ash pond. Crews are still trying to reach the broken part of the pipe under the ash pond. When they do, they plan to fill the full length of the pipe with the same concrete-like material.


Workers have temporarily stopped the flow of ash and water into the Dan River on the border of North Carolina and Virginia, and plan to permanently patch the leak overnight.


The state of North Carolina is suing the EPA. State environmental regulators are arguing that federal air quality standards are too stringent and should be loosened.

A federal judge has ordered the EPA to decide whether the byproduct from burning coal is a hazardous material that must be regulated. That decision will have big implications for North Carolina.

PCB Worries Put SC Sludge Fertilizer On Hold

Oct 3, 2013
Betsy Hill/Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities Department

There's a lot of sludge in South Carolina that's destined for landfills. That's because the sludge produced from some wastewater treatment plants has tested positive for PCBs.

NC Returns EPA Grant For Fracking Study

Sep 25, 2013

North Carolina’s environment agency has taken the unusual step of returning a federal grant to study streams and wetlands that could be harmed by hydraulic fracturing for natural gas.

The N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources had itself recommended last year that baseline water-quality data be collected where drilling might occur. The information would help document any problems linked to drilling.