UPDATE NC agency: Avoid contact with polluted river - WNCN: News, Weather

UPDATE NC agency: Avoid contact with polluted river

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EDENTON, N.C. - A North Carolina agency is warning people not to eat fish near the site of last week's massive coal ash spill on the Dan River.

The Department of Health and Human Services also is urging people to avoid contact with the river near the spill.

The advisories were issued Wednesday.

DHHS says it's working with other agencies to collect fish downstream of the spill in Eden and will evaluate the data. But there's no word when the advisories will be lifted.

The spill occurred at a 27-acre Duke Energy coal ash pond, spewing up to 82,000 tons of coal ash mixed with 27 million gallons of contaminated water into the Dan River.

The spill, discovered by a security guard Feb. 2, is the third largest in U.S. history.


North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory has made an unannounced visit to the coal ash spill near the Virginia border and says the serious spill needs to be brought under control as soon as possible.

McCrory traveled to the Duke Energy plant Thursday and made his first public statement on the spill.

McCrory worked for Duke for 28 years before retiring to launch his first campaign for governor in 2008. Watchdog groups have questioned whether the Republican governor's close ties to Duke executives have influenced how aggressively his administration regulates the company.

Meanwhile, state regulators and an environmental group issued differing data Thursday about the levels of toxins detected in a North Carolina river following a massive spill of coal ash. The spill has not affected drinking water for the nearest town, Danville, Va.

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Duke Energy says a pipe under a coal ash pond has broken releasing an unknown amount of coal ash into the Dan River in Rockingham County.

The utility said the pipe broke Sunday afternoon at the now closed Dan River Steam Station in Eden. Crews are working to get all the water out of the broken pipe.

Duke Energy says the dam holding back the water in the ash basin remains solid despite some erosion.

Engineers are trying to figure out how much ash and water made it into the Dan River, and Duke Energy promised to release those figures once the calculations are finished.

Environmental groups criticized Duke Energy for waiting a day to report the spill to the public and not immediately giving results of water quality tests.

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