Coal ash spill’s impact on Kerr Lake to be discussed

Apr. 12, 2014 @ 08:59 PM

Organization has formed through the Roanoke River Basin Association for a meeting in Henderson on April 24 related to Kerr Lake and the impact of a Feb. 2 coal ash spill near Eden.

A panel discussion, presentations and a time for questions and answers are planned at the meeting, which will begin at 6 p.m. in the Farm Bureau room of Perry Memorial Library. It is open to the public.

Scheduled to appear are Amy Adams of Appalachian Voices, two members of the Roanoke River Basin Association and representatives of the Southern Environmental Law Center.

Organizers of the meeting are asking Duke Energy to immediately implement an independently verified cleanup of the entire river system using vacuum dredgers.

A break in a storm water pipe caused a massive leak into the Dan River near Eden on Feb. 2. The toxic sludge containing arsenic, selenium, lead and other contaminants coated 70 miles of the river, which flows into Kerr Lake.

Duke reported 82,000 tons of coal ash mixed with 27 million gallons of contaminated water drained out into the river. Coal ash is the waste left behind when coal is burned. It contains arsenic, mercury, lead and other heavy metals that are toxic.

Kerr Lake is a primary source of drinking water for Henderson and several adjacent communities.

To date, water quality officials have confirmed no elevated hazards in the lake. Some fishermen believe they’ve seen coal ash, or a substance they believe to be foreign to the lake. Confirmation from state officials has yet to be obtained.

Suspicion of coal ash in the lake has been prevalent in the community since the first week of February.

Duke Energy is the nation’s largest power company. The $50 billion company is the subject of a federal criminal investigation of the Dan River spill and a relationship between Duke and state officials charged with enforcing clean water laws.

Duke’s CEO, Lynn Good, said last month the company and its shareholders will pay to clean up the spill in the Dan River. She also indicated customers would pay for the costs of closing the rest of the utility’s coal ash ponds across North Carolina.

Duke has 32 coal ash ponds at 14 power plants in the state.