Danville, VA - Duke Energy has begun dredging coal ash out of the Dan River and it's a complicated process. Monday was the first full day that Duke has been dredging.Once a park, now a work zone, the fenced off area houses an elaborate operation to remove coal ash from the Dan River."The deposit located here at Abrou Grogan Park is the largest sediment deposit that we have found that is a candidate for removal," said Jeff Brooks, Duke Energy spokesperson.Brooks said the process starts with a large vacuum."We're trying to be minimally invasive so we are using this vacuum technique," said Brooks. The water and sediment mixture travels through a tube to a cleaning station."The total clean machine's job is to shake out sediment material and separate the water from the sediment material," said Brooks. Water then goes to a clarifier tank and eventually back into the river. The sediment and coal ash mixture gets drained of any liquids and moved into a lined container. Brooks says they could transport up to 7 containers a day to a lined landfill in North Carolina."That material will then be stored permanently at that facility," said Brooks. Brooks says they hope to remove 2,500 tons of the coal ash and sediment mixture, which is not a lot when you compare it to the potentially 39,000 tons of coal ash leaked into the river. But EPA Coordinator Myles Bartos says removing any coal ash is a good thing."In this area we have a couple ecological screening levels excedances so when you can make an impact and remove it, it makes sense to do that," said Bartos.Brooks says they are on schedule as of now and they expect to be done by June.
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