Duke Energy Coal Ash Clean Up Complete At Abreu-Grogan Park

Danville, VA -- The Dan River is fully accessible now that Duke Energy has finished their coal ash clean up efforts. As of Thursday, Duke packed up and opened Abreu-Grogan Park back to the public. They originally expected to be done by the end of June.

As part of the agreement for Duke Energy to use the park, they paid the city $2,500. That money will go towards Parks and Recreation's general fund. Duke has also agreed to pay for upgrades to the park.

The weather likely kept visitors away from the newly re-opened Abreu-Grogan park Friday. But now that Duke Energy completed their coal ash clean up efforts, Danville Parks and Recreation Communications Specialist Russell Carter expects many people to return.

"Some of the long-time residents here love that park. We're really excited, I know everybody is to get things back to normal," says Carter.

Avid kayaker Jeff Ashby typically would spend nearly every weekend in the summer on the Dan River. But with this park closed, he had to find other places to go.

"We've done the lower Dan between Anglers and Milton, and we've also done the Smith River this year," says Ashby.

Ashby looks forward to kayaking again at his favorite spot. Still, he worries about the quality of the water.

"I still have it in the back of my mind, the concerns about the risk of the exposure to the coal ash, where I may would have gone swimming, now I might now go swimming," says Ashby.

At this site, Duke Energy cleaned up about 2,500 tons of a coal ash and sediment mixture from the river. There's no way to tell exactly how much coal ash remains. Signs around the park warn visitors about exposure to coal ash saying "Short-term and infrequent exposures to coal ash in the Dan River are unlikely to cause any adverse heath effects. However, prolonged and direct contact with coal ash may cause minor skin irritation." That warning sign also says that drinking the unfiltered river water could cause illness. And breathing high levels of coal ash can cause respiratory problems.

A spokesperson for Duke Energy told us Friday that they are done with this cleanup, but not done monitoring the water and they are committed to making this right.