Experts Testing The Dan River For Environmental Hazards - abc27 WHTM

Experts Testing The Dan River For Environmental Hazards


Danville, VA - Environmentalists say this weekend's coal ash spill could have serious consequences in North Carolina, Danville, and beyond. Thousands of gallons of ash leaked into a storm drain pipe in Eden, North Carolina.

The Dan River is still gray because of all that ash. As of Wednesday afternoon, more ash is still leaking into the water.

Crews with the US Fish and Wildlife Service ventured into the Dan River for a second day after coal ash leaked into the water.

"We are pulling samples to monitor for the impacts to the environment," said Craig Giggleman, Contaminant Specialist for US Fish and Wildlife Service.

Giggleman says several local, state, and federal agencies work around the clock testing the river. This time they want to broaden their samples.

"Now we are getting sediment samples, and that's the bottom layer of the river," said Giggleman.

Giggleman says they have been sending off the sediment samples to find out what this means for the wildlife and environment. Amy Adams, a Coordinator for Appalachian Voices, a North Carolina environmentalist group, suspects what will happen.

"The toxins that are in the coal ash are not at high enough levels to create an immediate kill. This very fine, very suspended material clogs the fish gills and they die basically from suffocation," said Adams.

 Adams calls the coal a 'toxic soup' that she suspects will kill plenty of fish over several days. 

"This is what we fear, this is what we fear. This is what we are concerned about anytime that there is a coal ash pond that is adjacent to a waterway," said Adams.

It is potentially filled with hazardous metals, like arsenic, lead, mercury and more. 

Danville Water and Wastewater Treatment Plant Director Barry Dunkley says they have been monitoring filtration very closely. He says the tap water is safe to drink. But Adams says she would advise everyone to make their own decision on whether to drink the tap water. She suspects it will be fine in a few days.

Environment groups suggest that you refrain from eating fish from the Dan River right now. They say the spill could have an impact up to 150 miles downstream from Eden. They also say anyone who is below the spill site downstream from it should check to make sure you know where your water is coming from.

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