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Duke Energy Coal Ash Spill in Eden, NC

History and Response Timeline

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.

Response Information Updates

Timeline

  • February 2, 2014 (Sunday)
    • ​The release of coal ash occurred at the Dan River Steam Station (Duke Energy) north of Eden, NC in Rockingham County
  • ​February 3, 2014 (Monday)
    • 4:30 pm (16:30 hrs)
    • EPA North Carolina outpost On Scene Coordinator (OSC) received a phone call from North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (NCDENR) requesting assistance in responding to a coal ash pond release
    • 6:15 pm (18:15 hrs)
      • ​Region 3 deployed OSC from Roanoke, Virginia at Region 4's request
      • Two Region 4 OSCs deployed from Atlanta, Georgia
  • ​February 4, 2014
    • ​OSCs begin activating mobilization of regional support staff/contractors
      • ​2:00 pm (14:00 hrs) Superfund Technical Assessment & Response Team (START) contractor support arrives on scene (sampling and data management support)
  • ​February 6, 2014
    • ​EPA R4 Science and Ecological Support Division personnel arrive on scene (sampling, Quality Assurance/Quality Control (QA/QC), and analytical support)
    • 27 foot concrete plug installed in outfall to 48” storm sewer line that ceases coal ash release to Dan River.
  • ​February 14, 2014
    • ​A second storm sewer line extending under the primary ash basin identified as a potential source of an additional release from the ash basin.
  • ​February 21, 2014
    • Second line plugged with concrete
  • February to July, 2014
    • EPA collects surface water, drinking water and sediment samples, and identifies coal ash deposition areas along the Dan River
    • EPA works with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the states of North Carolina and Virginia to determine threats associated with ash deposition areas and develop a strategy for the safe and effective removal of ash to be protective of both endangered species and human health
  • May 22, 2014 
    • EPA and Duke Energy enter into an Administrative Order on Consent (AOC)
  • July 2014 
    • Under the requirements of the AOC, Duke Energy removes an estimated 4,000 cubic yards of coal ash that had accumulated at the Schoolfield Dam, Town Creek Sand Bar, and at both the Danville and South Boston water treatment facilities
    • EPA provides oversight of removal activities
  • September 2014 
    • Duke Energy conduct first round of long-term monitoring required under the AOC
    • EPA reviews the results and determines there are no exceedances of human health or ecological screening thresholds for contaminants associated with coal ash 
  • November 2014 
    • Duke Energy and EPA conduct a second round of long-term monitoring
    • EPA reviews the results and determines there continue to be no exceedances of human health or ecological screening thresholds for contaminants associated with coal ash

EPA’s continued role in the response:

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 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.