The massive coal ash spill in North Carolina’s Dan River earlier this month is a dramatic demonstration that environmental pollution doesn’t confine itself to state borders. That’s a hard lesson that Danville and other Virginia localities are learning firsthand.
According to news reports, a pipe running under a coal ash pond collapsed at Duke Energy’s Dan River Steam Station in North Carolina on Feb. 2 and spilled up to 82,000 tons of coal ash mixed with 27 million gallons of contaminated water into the Dan River. The Dan flows north out of the Tar Heel state into Virginia, where it provides drinking water for Danville and other communities down river.
The full impact of the North Carolina spill on Virginians is still not known, but already the incident has sparked great concern in localities dependent upon the Dan for water, prompted more time and money on water quality testing, launched investigations by Virginia and federal environmental officials, and engaged Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who has said his office is closely following events.