Residents Weigh In On Duke Energy Cleanup

Danville, VA-- After months of dredging, Duke Energy recently announced the Dan River is back to normal, and there aren't any more coal ash deposits to remove. However, numerous river advocates quickly called foul, saying they left 94 percent of the ash in the river and that the job is no where near done.

Danville residents have a wide variety of opinions on the matter. Some people are excited to get back out on the water, and others have been doing it anyway. Some people refuse to, and want Duke Energy to continue cleaning up.

Back in May, Duke Energy transformed Abreu-Grogan Park into a work zone in effort to remove some of the 39,000 tons of coal ash they spilled in the river. Now, after cleaning up 3,000 tons it, Duke said the river is back to normal.

"We've not identified or confirmed any additional deposits that meet the EPA criteria for removal," said Jeff Brooks, Duke Energy Spokesperson.

Many river advocates disagree.

"Anywhere in the river you can go, you can just about see coal ash under the sediments," said Brian Williams, Program Manager for Dan River Basin Association,

Duke and the EPA stress that the ash at the river bottom poses no threat because of the low metal content.

"The smaller deposits are better left where they are as opposed to trying to remove them and potentially causing additional harm to the environment," Brooks said.

Last week the EPA reported that the water is safe to drink (as its always been) and the surface water of the river is safe for recreation. Also, Abreu-Grogan Park will soon be back to normal.

"My wife enjoys kayaking. I know her and her friends enjoy it. They normally put in at the Memorial Drive dock there, and I know they've been deterred from doing it this year because of access," said Matthew Mann, a Danville resident.

"I've kayaked, three or four times a week up this stretch of river from the Dan where they were pumping it out, and then down the river. Fishing seems to be good," said Clarence Beckner, an avid kayaker.

However some say they're still not comfortable getting in the river knowing there's still ash in it.

"It's like they didn't even do anything," said Douglas Ware , a Danville resident.

"Six percent... I look at that like if i'm taking a test and I make six percent, I've failed." James Cummings, also a Danville resident.

Duke Energy said they will continue to monitor the river for many months. If they find any harmful coal ash deposits, they'll remove them.