Virginia, North Carolina reach settlement over 2014 Dan River spill

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The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Attorney General Mark Herring have entered into a consent decree to finalize the restoration plan and environmental assessment related to the 2014 Dan River spill.

“This final restoration plan ensures that any damage caused by the Dan River spill is reversed and restored, as well as holds those who were responsible for the spill accountable,” Herring said. “The community was directly impacted by this spill and I’m glad we were able to involve them in coming up with a suitable plan for everyone. I want to thank our state and federal partners for their help and collaboration on reaching this important settlement.”

Four projects have been selected as meeting these goals and three of those have already been completed as early restoration. Completion of the last project – improved recreational access to the Dan River – is expected after the court filing. Selected projects include:

  • Acquisition and conservation of the Mayo River floodplain and riverbank adding up to 619 acres to the Mayo River State Parks in North Carolina and Virginia for long-term stewardship (completed)
  • Aquatic habitat restoration in the Pigg River via removal of the Power Dam returning riverine conditions to 2.2 miles, benefitting game fish such as smallmouth bass, and the federally and state listed Roanoke logperch and other nongame fish (completed)
  • Establishment of public boat launch facilities on the Dan River (ongoing)
  • Improvements to the Abreu Grogan Park in Danville, Virginia, including new amenities and other improvements that address impacts related to park closure during spill response activities (completed)

“Transparent community involvement was a vital part of this multi-agency partnership between Virginia and North Carolina as we shaped the important projects in the restoration plan to rehabilitate our natural resources,” said Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources Matthew J. Strickler. “Filing the consent decree will ensure all work is completed to enhance cleaner water, beautiful landscapes and our many outdoor recreation venues.”

On Feb. 2, 2014, a stormwater pipe underneath the primary coal ash basin at the Duke Energy Dan River Steam Station failed, resulting in the spill of approximately 27 million gallons of coal ash wastewater and between 30,000 and 39,000 tons of coal ash into the Dan River, resulting in documented ash or ash-like material co-mingled with native sediment in North Carolina and Virginia as far as 70 river miles downstream.

The Dan River spill NRDAR process included collecting and reviewing monitoring data in the Dan River for several years after the completion of the cleanup, as well as identifying projects that would restore the habitat and gathering public input about those project ideas.

In October 2014, the Trustees invited restoration project ideas from the public to help identify the types and scale of restoration needed to compensate for those injuries. Public feedback showed support for land protection and conservation projects, dam removals, and increasing public access to the river.

The final restoration plan and environmental assessment can be found here.


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