Duke Energy outlines cleanup plan for Dan River coal ash spill

Duke Energy says it will use a vacuum dredge system to suction toxic coal ash from the bed of the Dan River.
April 4, 2014 12:54:01 PM PDT
Duke Energy says it will use a vacuum dredge system to suction toxic coal ash from the bed of the Dan River.

The ash spread as far as 70 miles downstream when a pipe at a coal ash pond at Duke's Eden plant collapsed February 2, spilling millions of gallons of ash-laden water.

A Duke spokesperson told ABC11 Tuesday the company estimates about 2,500 tons of ash is sitting on the riverbed just upstream from the Schoolfield Dam in Danville, VA. This week, the company will turn one of Danville's riverside parks into something that may look more like a construction zone packed with heavy equipment that'll connect to a barge out in the river.

They'll be using that to do what they call vacuum dredging - sucking the ash off the riverbed - instead of the more traditional mechanical dredging where they'd dig and scoop.

"This uses a vacuum and is more, is less invasive, and allows us to remove material at the site by vacuuming it up from the river above the sediment bed, our goal is to minimize impact to sediment itself on the bottom of the river, we don't want to disturb that environment," said the spokesperson.

Duke says the project will go on through mid-summer. It estimates some 30 tractor-trailer loads of ash will be taken off the riverbed, dried out, and put into lined storage.

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