Economic impact from Dan River spill could exceed $70 million - WNCN: News, Weather

Economic impact from Dan River spill could exceed $70 million

Posted: Updated:
EDEN, N.C. -

Health officials are still warning the public that the Dan River is still not safe.

Clean up and water testing continues three weeks after an estimated 35 million gallons of coal ash spilled in to the river along Duke Energy's site in Eden.

Of the 28 metals for which the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources is testing near the coal ash spill, iron and aluminum are the two metals at or above surface water quality standards.

The state says some initial water quality samples taken downstream of the spill site showed higher than allowed levels of arsenic, iron, aluminum and copper. DENR says subsequent tests taken at the same sites have shown that neither arsenic nor copper exceed surface water standards.

DENR also says iron and aluminum have been high in historic water quality sampling conducted prior to the coal ash spill and are naturally occurring in soils in North Carolina.

The state is still waiting on test results from the fish in the Dan River. 

The state is still warning the public to avoid eating the fish and prolonged exposure to the water.

The overall cost for the clean up is still being totaled but Duke Energy says they will take responsibility for it and tells WNCN that customers will not foot the bill.

But aside from clean-up, many are starting to wonder what the overall economic impact this spill will have on the region.

Dennis Lemly, a professor at Wake Forest University, has studied the effect of coal ash on the environment for years.

Based on his research, he says the overall economic impact from the spill could exceed $70 million.

Lemly says there are many factors that go into that estimate including the decline of property values along the spill site, the fish who will leave the 80-mile stretch of river that has been contaminated, the wildlife that may die from the coal ash, and the impact the spill will have on fishing and recreational use of the Dan River.

He estimates a basic starting point for overall cost to the region is about a million dollars per contaminated mile.

But the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says it's specifically concerned about the two endangered species living in the Dan River.

The river is home to the Roanoke Log Perch and the James Spiny Mussel. The coal ash could harm them and cause them to leave the river, according to the service.

Meanwhile, Gov. Pat McCrory has given Duke Energy until March 15 to provide a detailed plan of action for all of their coal ash sites.

Jonathan Rodriguez

Jonathan Rodriguez is an investigative reporter and member of the WNCN Investigates team. His storytelling specialty is connecting the dots to get to the truth, with a goal of delivering results for our community. If you have something you’d like WNCN to investigate, contact Jonathan.

More>>

  • Coal Ash SpillMore>>

  • Lawmaker says one detail stopped coal ash bill

    Lawmaker says one detail stopped coal ash bill

    Friday, August 1 2014 9:59 PM EDT2014-08-02 01:59:29 GMT
    Rep. Rick Glazier, a Democrat from Cumberland County, said the coal ash bill failed because some on the committee insisted on one key provision.
    Rep. Rick Glazier, a Democrat from Cumberland County, said the coal ash bill failed because some on the committee insisted on one key provision.
  • Coal ash bill in limbo after NC Senate adjourns

    Coal ash bill in limbo after NC Senate adjourns

    Friday, August 1 2014 5:38 AM EDT2014-08-01 09:38:10 GMT
    The North Carolina Senate adjourned early Friday morning without finalizing a bill requiring Duke Energy to clean up its leaky coal ash dumps across the state.
    The North Carolina Senate adjourned early Friday morning without finalizing a bill requiring Duke Energy to clean up its leaky coal ash dumps across the state.
  • Environment group says public 'mislead' to think Dan River is clean

    Environment group says public 'mislead' to think Dan River is clean

    Friday, July 18 2014 2:06 PM EDT2014-07-18 18:06:07 GMT
    Waterkeeper Alliance says photos show coal ash is still present in the Dan River. (Waterkeeper Alliance)Waterkeeper Alliance says photos show coal ash is still present in the Dan River. (Waterkeeper Alliance)
    Waterkeeper Alliance provided photos it says show deposits of coal ash still in the Dan River despite claims to the contrary.
    Waterkeeper Alliance provided photos it says show deposits of coal ash still in the Dan River despite claims to the contrary.
Powered by WorldNow

1205 Front St., Raleigh
N.C., 27609

Telephone: 919.836.1717
Fax: 919.836.1687
Email: newstips@wncn.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.