NCDHHS Issues Two Health Advisories for Dan River After Duke Coal Ash Spill

By Staff
Duke Energy announced last week that on February 2nd it found a leak in a 48-inch stormwater pipe at the retired Dan River Steam Station in Eden. The pipe was made out of metal rather than concrete, as regulations require, and there have been serious questions raised about how much Duke knew and when before they notified authorities or the public. On Wednesday February 12th NCDHHS issued two warnings about the now poisonous waters of the Dan River.

waterkeeper alliance ready response team
waterkeeper alliance ready response team

North Carolina’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources previously said water tests showed levels of arsenic to be at safe levels. However, the Department later admitted those levels were four times higher than safety standards. On Sunday, February 9th, McCrory Administration officials admitted that estimated levels of arsenic in the Dan River taken two days after a massive coal ash spill at the Eden plant were wrong and that the water was in fact highly toxic and unsafe for public exposure.

Coal ash, the material that remains after burning coal for electricity, contains metals such as arsenic, selenium and cadmium. Tests of the river last week revealed levels of copper, aluminum, iron and arsenic were above state standards for surface water, state environmental officials said.

On Wednesday NCDHHS officials released the following two warnings:

Recreational Water Advisory
Because the Duke Power-Eden coal ash spill is located in North Carolina’s portion of the Dan River, a potential hazard exists immediately downstream of the release. Therefore, the DHHS Division of Public Health recommends that people avoid recreational contact with water and sediment in the Dan River in North Carolina downstream of the Duke Power-Eden spill site.

DHHS also recommends that people do not contact submerged or floating coal ash, or ash washed up on the riverbank. Direct contact with the water or sediment may cause skin irritation. Wash skin that has been exposed to the water or sediment with soap and water. The Department will continue to monitor data as it becomes available to identify when health risks are no longer a concern.

Fish and Shellfish Consumption
Because the Duke Power-Eden coal ash spill is located in North Carolina’s portion of the Dan River , a potential hazard exists immediately downstream of the release. The DHHS Division of Public Health recommends that people not consume any fish or shellfish collected from the Dan River in North Carolina downstream of the Duke Power-Eden spill site.

DHHS is working with other agencies to collect fish downstream of the spill and will evaluate the data from fish samples as it becomes available to identify when health risks associated with eating the fish are no longer a concern.

This story continues to develop and CCD is currently working on an investigative article about the spill. More coming in the next two weeks.

 

1424272_10151921645093837_241633599_n
justin quinlivan, staff at yadkin riverkeeper, works with waterkeeper alliance ready response team to continue testing