The February 2 spill occurred when a pipe in a coal ash holding pond failed, sending millions of gallons of ash-laden water into the river by Duke's Eden plant.
The protestors said they're not only concerned about the cleanup, but what to do about Duke's 33 coal ash dumps throughout the state. Environmentalists say testing shows many are directly polluting water sources.
"There are good solutions for toxic coal ash ponds. All we're asking Duke to do is to pay the money they need to pay to put these toxic coal ash ponds in a safe lined dry pit and not next to our waterways where the unlined earthen dams can break and contaminate waters like the Dan River," said one protestor.
No cameras were allowed inside the Thursday meeting between Duke officials and some 200 shareholders. Some investors pushed the utility's board of directors to investigate issues surrounding the February spill and the company's general stewardship of the environment.
The Rev. William Barber, president of the North Carolina chapter of the NAACP, also attended Thursday's protest. He told the demonstrators that the facts need to be brought out in the open. Barber said many of the coal ash pits are located in rural areas around minority communities.
Barber says Duke, rather than the public, should pay for the cleanup.