Economic impact from Dan River spill could exceed $70 million - Local news, weather, sports Savannah | WSAV On Your Side

Economic impact from Dan River spill could exceed $70 million

Posted: Updated:
EDEN, N.C. -

Health officials are still warning the public that the Dan River is still not safe.

Clean up and water testing continues three weeks after an estimated 35 million gallons of coal ash spilled in to the river along Duke Energy's site in Eden.

Of the 28 metals for which the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources is testing near the coal ash spill, iron and aluminum are the two metals at or above surface water quality standards.

The state says some initial water quality samples taken downstream of the spill site showed higher than allowed levels of arsenic, iron, aluminum and copper. DENR says subsequent tests taken at the same sites have shown that neither arsenic nor copper exceed surface water standards.

DENR also says iron and aluminum have been high in historic water quality sampling conducted prior to the coal ash spill and are naturally occurring in soils in North Carolina.

The state is still waiting on test results from the fish in the Dan River. 

The state is still warning the public to avoid eating the fish and prolonged exposure to the water.

The overall cost for the clean up is still being totaled but Duke Energy says they will take responsibility for it and tells WNCN that customers will not foot the bill.

But aside from clean-up, many are starting to wonder what the overall economic impact this spill will have on the region.

Dennis Lemly, a professor at Wake Forest University, has studied the effect of coal ash on the environment for years.

Based on his research, he says the overall economic impact from the spill could exceed $70 million.

Lemly says there are many factors that go into that estimate including the decline of property values along the spill site, the fish who will leave the 80-mile stretch of river that has been contaminated, the wildlife that may die from the coal ash, and the impact the spill will have on fishing and recreational use of the Dan River.

He estimates a basic starting point for overall cost to the region is about a million dollars per contaminated mile.

But the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says it's specifically concerned about the two endangered species living in the Dan River.

The river is home to the Roanoke Log Perch and the James Spiny Mussel. The coal ash could harm them and cause them to leave the river, according to the service.

Meanwhile, Gov. Pat McCrory has given Duke Energy until March 15 to provide a detailed plan of action for all of their coal ash sites.

Jonathan Rodriguez

Jonathan Rodriguez is an investigative reporter and member of the WNCN Investigates team. His storytelling specialty is connecting the dots to get to the truth, with a goal of delivering results for our community. If you have something you’d like WNCN to investigate, contact Jonathan.

More>>

  • Coal Ash SpillMore>>

  • Environment group says public 'mislead' to think Dan River is clean

    Environment group says public 'mislead' to think Dan River is clean

    Friday, July 18 2014 2:06 PM EDT2014-07-18 18:06:07 GMT
    Waterkeeper Alliance says photos show coal ash is still present in the Dan River. (Waterkeeper Alliance)Waterkeeper Alliance says photos show coal ash is still present in the Dan River. (Waterkeeper Alliance)
    Waterkeeper Alliance provided photos it says show deposits of coal ash still in the Dan River despite claims to the contrary.
    Waterkeeper Alliance provided photos it says show deposits of coal ash still in the Dan River despite claims to the contrary.
  • NC, Va. groups to monitor coal ash in Dan River

    NC, Va. groups to monitor coal ash in Dan River

    Friday, July 18 2014 9:59 AM EDT2014-07-18 13:59:45 GMT
    A collapsed pipe at Duke Energy's Dan River Steam Station dumped coal ash into the Dan River.A collapsed pipe at Duke Energy's Dan River Steam Station dumped coal ash into the Dan River.
    Two water protection groups will continue to monitor the Dan River to identify coal ash from a massive spill in North Carolina that flowed into Virginia.
    Two water protection groups will continue to monitor the Dan River to identify coal ash from a massive spill in North Carolina that flowed into Virginia.
  • Feds: Duke Energy has finished moving coal ash from Dan River

    Feds: Duke Energy has finished moving coal ash from Dan River

    Thursday, July 17 2014 3:03 PM EDT2014-07-17 19:03:48 GMT
    Duke has dredged up about 2,500 tons of ash and contaminated sediment, as well as another 500 tons that had accumulated in settling tanks at downstream municipal water treatment plants.
    Duke has dredged up about 2,500 tons of ash and contaminated sediment, as well as another 500 tons that had accumulated in settling tanks at downstream municipal water treatment plants.
  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Screams, panic caught on video as shark charges at swimmers near beach

    Screams, panic caught on video as shark charges at swimmers near beach

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 5:48 PM EDT2014-07-30 21:48:04 GMT
    Facebook image from Dan FlynnFacebook image from Dan Flynn
    A Florida beach cleared out – with the exception of a woman and lifeguard who tried to save her – when a shark was spotted heading straight toward swimmers on Tuesday afternoon. The panic of the 10-foot shark and people screaming from the pier was caught on tape.
    A Florida beach cleared out – with the exception of a woman and lifeguard who tried to save her – when a shark was spotted heading straight toward swimmers on Tuesday afternoon. The panic of the 10-foot shark and people screaming from the pier was caught on tape.
  • Former Miss Savannah Breaks Silence about Killing Boyfriend

    Former Miss Savannah Breaks Silence about Killing Boyfriend

    Thursday, July 31 2014 12:14 AM EDT2014-07-31 04:14:37 GMT
    Eleven years ago Savannah ignited worldwide attention when the city's beauty queen of just 4 months was charged with the murder of her boyfriend.
    Eleven years ago Savannah ignited worldwide attention when the city's beauty queen of just 4 months was charged with the murder of her boyfriend.
  • Want to Repel Mosquitoes? There's an App for That

    Want to Repel Mosquitoes? There's an App for That

    The latest buzz on mosquito season... it's here and it can be miserable. I seem to attract mosquitoes. Every time I step outside, I get bit. But there's a new high-tech weapon that could help, and it doesn't come in the form of a spray or clip. It's simply a free app on your smartphone.Anti-mosquito apps give off ultrasonic frequencies that are designed to scare the mosquitoes away. They do this by either mimicking the sounds of mosquito predators, such as dragonflies and bats, or by using th...
    The latest buzz on mosquito season... it's here and it can be miserable. I seem to attract mosquitoes. Every time I step outside, I get bit. But there's a new high-tech weapon that could help, and it doesn't come in the form of a spray or clip. It's simply a free app on your smartphone.Anti-mosquito apps give off ultrasonic frequencies that are designed to scare the mosquitoes away. They do this by either mimicking the sounds of mosquito predators, such as dragonflies and bats, or by using th...
Powered by WorldNow

1430 East Victory Drive
Savannah, GA 31404

Telephone: 912.651.0300
Fax: 912.651.0320
Email: newsemailalert@wsav.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.