Duke Energy apologizes for coal ash spill, vows to 'do right thing'

Posted February 7, 2014
Updated February 9, 2014

Coal ash

— A Duke Energy official apologized Friday for a major spill of coal ash from one of its retired power plants into the Dan River and promised that the utility would clean up the damage.

"We apologize and will use all available resources to take care of the river," said Paul Newton, Duke's North Carolina president. "We will do the right thing for the river and surrounding communities. We are accountable."

Duke has estimated up to 82,000 tons of ash spilled from two ponds at the coal-fired plant in Eden after a stormwater pipe that ran under the ponds ruptured Sunday. The Charlotte-based utility closed the plant two years ago.

The ash, which is left over after coal is burned to power electric plants, contains arsenic, mercury, lead, boron and other heavy metals. Scientists say the contaminants don't readily dissolve in water and usually sink to the bottom of the river, where they can pose a risk to aquatic life.

Newton met Friday with local government officials and residents in Eden and in Danville, Va., which is about 25 miles downstream and uses the river as its water supply, to update them on the ash release, water quality and options to clean up the river.

Danville officials said they are successfully filtering arsenic, lead and other toxins from drinking water.

Duke continues to test water samples for various locations on the river, and Newton said water quality continues to improve downstream of the spill site. The company's results are consistent with sampling done by the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources, he said.

The company finally stopped the flow of ash into the river Friday, spokeswoman Meghan Musgrave said. A catch basin and several pumps are trapping any ash coming out of the ruptured pipe and sending it back to a safe area of the ash basin, she said.

Duke also is working with federal and state environmental regulators on a long-term river cleanup plan, Newton said.


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  • Jump1 Feb 14, 2014

    Will do the right thing as long as it does not cost too much, or take to much time. But we will have t have a rate increase to cover anything fines we have to pay.

  • JustOneGodLessThanU Feb 10, 2014

    Fracking is the next pollution nightmare that will destroy our water like it has everywhere else.

    Where is the thought for future generations? Why is this being traded for short term profits for a private company? What good is money when there's no water to drink?

  • Bill Mooney Feb 10, 2014
    user avatar

    McCrory will say we need to lessen regulations to prevent this from happening again. Duke needs to do the right thing and ditch coal.

  • Phil Larson Feb 10, 2014
    user avatar

    Or as Urkel would say, "did I do that?".

  • itlsss Feb 10, 2014

    Containment vessel in Fla, transformer at Sherron-Harris and now this. Looks like Duke needs some engineers who know what they are doing.

  • Forthe Newssite Feb 10, 2014
    user avatar

    They're SORRY????? No they're not, they're just sorry they're in the negative spotlight again.

    And WE the customers will be the ones to pay

  • Djofraleigh Anderson Feb 10, 2014
    user avatar

    We Duke customers will be paying for the reparations. I don't see that there will be or could be a clean up of the river. Let's fix that and other ash ponds. Too bad it can't go in asphalt and onto the roads.

  • Kathryn Adams Feb 10, 2014
    user avatar

    But...but environmental regulations and clean air and water and making companies clean up the mess they make is bad for the country. Somehow. 'Murica!

  • Paul M Feb 10, 2014

    Rates are heading up again. Why should they pay when we can pay

  • xylem01 Feb 10, 2014

    View quoted thread

    Pretty much says it all right there.