Coal ash suspected in lake

Apr. 09, 2014 @ 09:20 PM

Water sample tests done by the Kerr Lake Regional Water System have not indicated the presence of coal ash, but one Vance County resident says he spotted the grayish substance while fishing in Kerr Lake last week.

“I have been fishing in this lake for over 40 years and there was no question in my mind it was coal ash,” said John Soles, who lives in the Nutbush community.

Soles said he took his boat in the Ivy Hill area of Kerr Lake, near Clarksville, Va.

“I was shocked,” he said. “I just couldn’t believe what it was when I first saw it. There is no question in my mind it is here, I just don’t know how much.”

On Feb. 2, a 48-inch stormwater pipe collapsed beneath one of Duke Energy’s coal ash ponds and caused a massive spill of coal ash into the Dan River, which leads directly into Kerr Lake. The lake is a major supplier of drinking water to several communities, including the Tri-County region.

Director of the Kerr Lake Regional Water System Christy Lipscomb said the department performs basic water quality tests daily and none have indicated the presence of coal ash.

She said this is the first report of coal ash being spotted in the southern portion of Kerr Lake.

“It has not been reported this far downstream,” she said.

Immediately following the spill, Lipscomb said Duke Energy collected water quality samples that did not indicate the presence of coal ash.

Jamie Kritzer, spokesperson for the N.C. Department of the Environment and Natural Resources, said the department collected water samples from Satterwhite Point near the marina on Wednesday.

The state regulatory agency also collected water and sediment samples in Kerr Lake for testing on Feb. 17.

Kritzer said the test results from Wednesday and Feb. 17 are still being processed.

“There have been no reports to my knowledge that coal ash was spotted in Kerr Lake,” he said.

Kritzer said he encourages anyone with information about the presence of coal ash to contact the Department of the Environment and Natural Resources.

“If people have concerns and they want to bring them to our attention, we invite it,” he said.

 

Contact the writer at smansur@hendersondispatch.com.