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Press releases from the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, shared Feb. 18:
RALEIGH – The N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources ordered Duke Energy late Tuesday afternoon to immediately halt discharges of material from a leaking 36-inch stormwater pipe beneath the coal ash basin in Eden where another stormwater pipe failed and caused a spill of coal ash into the Dan River.
DENR staff issued the order to Duke Energy Tuesday afternoon after initial tests the state agency conducted indicated the presence of elevated levels of arsenic.
The elevated levels of arsenic are one of the key indicators of the presence of coal ash. DENR identified the unauthorized discharge during its ongoing investigation of the coal ash spill at the Dan River power plant in Eden.
“Given what we’ve seen, we’re concerned that this second stormwater pipe on site may also be leaking water contaminated with coal ash pollutants into the Dan River,” said Tom Reeder, director of the N.C. Division of Water Resources. “As such, we are ordering Duke Energy to eliminate this unauthorized discharge immediately.”
On Feb. 2, Duke Energy discovered a 48-inch reinforced concrete and corrugated steel stormwater pipe that was broken and released 30,000-to-39,000 tons of coal ash into the Dan River. The second, 36-inch stormwater pipe came to DENR’s attention during its investigation.
DENR will evaluate this most recent violation in connection with all pending enforcement actions related to the coal ash spill.
The state agency will conduct additional sampling in order to characterize the impacts of this discharge to water quality in the Dan River.
DENR staff remains concerned about the cumulative impacts of coal ash on the Dan River and its possible long-term effects on aquatic life.
Agency releases video from second pipe
RALEIGH – Video from inside a second leaking stormwater pipe at Duke Energy’s Dan River electric generating station near Eden has been posted on the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ YouTube channel http://alturl.com/yx5zq.
The state agency also posted the video on its website at the web page devoted to the “Dan River Spill,” http://danriverspill.ncdenr.gov. The video posted this week is of a 36-inch reinforced concrete pipe that carries stormwater from a drainage area on the Duke Energy property to the Dan River by traversing beneath the failed coal ash pond.
After reviewing the video, the Division of Energy, Mineral and Land Resources’ Dam Safety Engineer Steve McEvoy sent a letter to Duke Energy expressing concerns about the conduit and its “potential by configuration to release ash material in a way similar to the 48-inch conduit.”
A 48-inch reinforced concrete and corrugated steel stormwater pipe beneath this same ash pond was discovered by a Duke Energy employee on Feb. 2 to have broken and released 30,000-to-39,000 tons of coal ash into the Dan River near Eden.
The 36-inch diameter stormwater pipe is approximately 1,000-feet long and built from 4-foot segments of reinforced concrete. The video reveals that water is entering the 36-inch diameter pipe, dripping and flowing, from a number of places where these segments are joined. Puddles inside the pipe indicate that the pipe is out of proper vertical alignment. A separation at a pipe joint was seen near where the pipe discharges to the Dan River.
On Feb. 14, DENR sent Duke Energy a letter giving the company 10 days to submit a schedule to develop and implement a plan to fix the leaking 36-inch stormwater pipe. DENR also began conducting water quality sampling where stormwater enters the pipe and where the pipe discharges into the Dan River. DENR issued a news release Feb. 14 about the agency’s actions to address the second stormwater pipe. The state agency will publicize results of samples taken related to the second stormwater pipe as soon as they are available.
Latest water quality sampling results released
Also today, DENR released a new batch of water quality results from samples collected in the Dan River upstream and downstream of the coal ash spill. The results come from samples DENR staff collected Feb. 7.
The results show that levels of aluminum and iron in the Dan River continue to decrease downstream from the spill, but still exceed water quality standards at the Draper Landing and the North Carolina-Virginia border sampling points. Levels for aluminum also exceed water quality standards at N.C. Hwy. 14, a sampling location upstream of the spill. DENR has sampled water quality at several locations upstream and downstream of the coal ash spill site. DENR sampled for sediment Monday at eight sites on the Dan River from the site just upstream of the spill to the headwaters of the John H. Kerr Reservoir.