Danville, VA-- There is lots of concern over the impact the coal ash spill is going to have on the Dan River.The EPA held the meeting at the Danville City Council Chambers on Tuesday night, and had several other environmental agencies on hand to answer questions from folks who are worried.
The chambers were packed, standing room only with people who wanted answers.They expressed the same concerns they've had since the beginning. Is the water truly safe?Over a week after Duke Energy leaked 82,000 tons of coal ash into the Dan River, local residents are raising more and more questions.
"We heard a lot of similar questions from people," said Trish Taylor, Community Involvement Coordinator for the EPA.
The main ones?
"The drinking water and the actual river safety as far as the fish are concerned and the citizens eating the fish," said Dawn Witter, a Danville citizen.
They said to date there has been 122 samples of water taken from different areas of the river and from the local water treatment, all showing that the water is safe.
A representative from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also said they haven't seen detrimental effects to the fish yet.
The EPA, also outlined what they've done so far and what the next steps are. Many wanted a timeline of the future clean up efforts, But the EPA said that's something they just can't provide now.
"The question about timeline. We'll be doing this in two phases. The emergency response phase, which is the immediate, and then the long term phase which is as soon as the immediate threat is taken care of, we can then look at potential long term effects on the water quality," said Taylor.
It was safe to say everyone in the room wanted to make sure this does not happen again.
"They want Duke Energy to ensure it never happens again. The only way that can be done is if they move their coal ash off of out river, out of these unlined pits, and move it to safe storage, in a lined land fill, just like the rest of us have to put our kitchen garbage in," said Frank Holleman, attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center.
The EPA plans to do more of these public meetings so citizens can stay well informed on the river quality and the efforts to clean it out.
They're planning one in Eden, North Carolina and another in South Boston next week.
Below are a list of websites to stay informed on the coal ash spill. U.S. Environmental Protection AgencyVirginia Department of HealthNorth Carolina Department of Environmental and Natural ResourcesVirginia Department of Environmental Quality Duke Energy