Danville, VA - Coal ash is no longer leaking into the Dan River according to a Duke Energy spokesperson, but they say their work is far from done.While crews are still working, the worst has already passed. Duke Energy estimates they lost up to 82,000 tons of ash into the river, something they say they are determined to fix.
While coal ash no longer leaks into the Dan River, it doesn't mean the concern has died down.
"We are accountable and we are responsible. We will do the right thing," said Paige Sheehan, a spokesperson with Duke Energy.Sheehan says a team of engineers worked hard to find a solution and seal the storm drain pipe. On Saturday, they plugged the side going into the river. Over the next several days, crews will work to fill in a large section of the pipe with cement.
"The most critical thing was the seal the leak. And there is nothing going into the river at this point. That was critical," said Sheehan.
They say that will guarantee the pipe will not open again. Looking ahead, Duke plans to test out how to clean up the river.
"We will be vacuuming a section of the water that is just outside our discharge pipe," said Sheehan.
They also hope to accelerate their plans to permanently shut down the ash pond. As Duke works, so do many environmental groups.
"Our main concern right now is the quality and safety of the drinking water," said Trish Taylor, Community Involvement Coordinator with EPA.
Taylor says they have been regularly testing the water quality since the beginning of the situation.
"The drinking water has been meeting the federal safe drinking water standards," said Taylor.
They soon will shift their focus to the environment, looking for the long term effects this will have on wildlife.
Duke Energy acknowledged they do not know the last time the storm drain pipe was inspected.
Duke says that no coal ash is leaking into the Dan River and it is returning to its natural state.