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EPA’s Response to the Duke Energy Coal Ash Spill in Eden, NC

EPA's Response to the

Response History

On February 2, 2014, officials estimate up to 39,000 tons of coal ash spilled from Duke Energy’s Dan River Steam Station into the Dan River in Eden, N.C., about 80 miles upstream from the Kerr Reservoir. Ash or grey colored water was seen in the reservoir a few days after the coal ash spill.

On February 3, 2014, the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (NC DENR) requested EPA assistance to manage the incident. EPA deployed on-scene coordinators (OSCs) and entered into a unified command structure, consisting of:
• Duke Energy,
• NC DENR,
• the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and
• the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.
As a part of the unified command, EPA provided technical assistance, including oversight, data management and sampling support.

A number of other agencies collaborated to respond and thoroughly assess the spill’s impact in order to protect human health and the environment and guide the cleanup. These include the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, North Carolina Department of Public Health, Virginia Department of Health, as well as county and local partners along the Dan River and Kerr Reservoir.

On May 22, 2014, EPA and Duke Energy entered into an Administrative Order on Consent (AOC). Under the requirements of the AOC, Duke Energy removed coal ash that had accumulated at the Schoolfield Dam, Town Creek Sand Bar, and at both the Danville and South Boston water treatment facilities. The removal action was completed in July 2014, and an estimated 4,000 cubic yards of coal ash were removed.

EPA Response to Release of Coal Ash Into the Dan River

Following extensive surface water and sediment sampling, no further ash removal is planned. There have been no exceedances of human health screening thresholds, or any recent exceedances of ecological screening thresholds, for contaminants associated with ash. Further, removal of ash is some places could be more detrimental to the ecosystem than leaving it in place.

Under the Administrative Order on Consent (AOC), Duke Energy is also required to conduct long-term monitoring through July 2015 along the area that was impacted by the spill. There have been two sampling events, one in September and another in November, 2014. EPA has reviewed the results and determined that there continue to be no exceedances of human health or ecological screening thresholds for contaminants associated with coal ash.

EPA will oversee Duke Energy’s next two rounds of sampling planned through summer 2015 and, at that time, determine whether any additional sampling is needed.

Response Information Updates

Sampling Results

EPA has been collecting water quality and sediment samples at the spill source and several locations upstream and downstream from the spill site. Sampling locations include both raw water intakes and finished potable water at the Danville, South Boston and Clarksville Drinking Water Treatment Plants. To date, none of the finished water samples have shown any detections above Federal Maximum Contaminant Levels. EPA has two sampling teams:

- EPA Team 1: Data collected by EPA’s Superfund Technical Assessment & Response Team (START) Contractor
- EPA Team 2: Data collected by EPA Region 4’s Science and Ecosystem Support Division (SESD)

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Comments or questions

Media Inquiries

  • Region 4 Media Line
    (404) 562-8400
  • James Pinkney, EPA Public Affairs Specialist
    (404) 562-9183
  • Dawn Harris-Young, EPA Public Affairs Specialist
    (404) 562-8421


EPA Community Involvement Coordinators

  • Angela Miller, Region 4
    (miller.angela@epa.gov)
    (678) 575-8132
  • Trish Taylor, Region 3
    (taylor.trish@epa.gov)
    (215) 814-5539

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