Coal ash, sediment moved to Person County landfill

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At least 2,500 tons of coal ash and sediment removed from the Dan River are now in a Person County landfill.

At least 2,500 tons of coal ash and sediment removed from the Dan River are now in a Person County landfill, which completes three months of clean-up following the third largest coal ash spill in U.S. history.

Duke Energy announced Wednesday that it had completed the work and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has reviewed and approved the project.

Phillips and Jordan, which is the Knoxville, Tennessee contractor for Duke, is storing the coal ash waste at the privately-owned Upper Piedmont Landfill in Person County.

The work kicked off May 6; that's when crews staged equipment at Abreu-Grogan Park in Danville, Virginia.

The contractor used what amounts to an industrial-sized vacuum operation to suck up the toxic sludge and sediment at Schoolfield Dam and several other sites -- including the Dan River Steam Station and Town Creek.

On Feb. 2, Duke Energy spilled an estimated 30,000 to 39,000 tons of coal ash into the Dan River between Eden, N.C. and Danville, polluting the waterway and potentially threatening public health.

A break in a 48-inch storm water pipe located underneath Duke's unlined 27-acre, 155-million gallon ash pond caused the spill -- ultimately draining an estimated 24 to 27 million gallons of contaminated water into the Dan River.

People who live near the spill are still worried about the safety of the water.

To complete the clean-up, the contractor conducted 2,000 water samples -- vowing the fish and wildlife are healthy and the water is safe to drink. The EPA is backing up that statement.

People who live in Person County, where the clean-up waste is stored, are also concerned.

Person County Commissioners fought, passing a resolution to have the coal ash stored on Duke Energy's property, but the EPA considers coal ash a non-hazardous material that can be stored in lined landfills.

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