Belews Creek Coal Ash

The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality recently ordered that all remaining coal ash storage facilities must be excavated and moved to lined landfills. This is great news for all but also presents a new concern for the Dan River. The Duke Energy facility at Belews Creek, NC is home to a massive 277 acre coal ash storage pond filled with with an ash/water slurry. The Duke Energy plan is this: drain all of the water from the 277 acre coal ash pond into the Dan River over an extended period of time and then excavate the remaining coal ash from the site. 

 

The concerns with this are obvious. Many known carcinogens and other unhealthy chemicals are in the coal ash waste and the possibility of those chemicals heading downstream are unnerving. Downstream municipalities rely on the Dan River for drinking water supply and the economical boost its tourism provides the communities. Delicate ecosystems and wildlife, like the Roanoke Logperch, also require clean and undisturbed water for survival. This area will be one of the Dan Riverkeeper's priority testing zones. 

This particular Duke Energy facility has also been responsible for leaching Bromide into the Dan River causing high trihalomethane levels in the water supplies of Eden and Madison, requiring their treatment equipment to be upgraded (story here).

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