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Agreement reached on Dan River coal ash cleanup

Published by
World Coal,

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Duke Energy have reached an agreement to clean up the mess left by the massive coal ash spill that occurred at the Dan River Steam Station in February.

Coal ash clean up under hazardous waste programme

In a statement, the EPA said that it had reached an “enforceable agreement” with the utility that will see the federal regulator oversee the cleanup under the Superfund law, the name given to the environmental programme established to address abandoned hazardous waste sites.

"The Superfund statute isn't involved unless it's something serious,” Frank Holleman, senior attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center told AP. “Superfund isn't invoked when someone just spills sand and dirt into the river. The very fact that the EPA is using the Superfund statute underscores the serious nature of what happened," he said.

Protection of public health is the primary concern

Commenting on the agreement, EPA regional administrator, Heather McTeer Toney, said that the EPA “will work with Duke Energy to ensure that cleanup at the site and affected areas is comprehensive, based on sound scientific and ecological principles, complies with all federal and state environmental standards and moves as quickly as possible.

"Protection of public health and safety remains a primary concern, along with the long-term ecological health of the Dan River,” McTeer Toney continued.

The agreement also requires Duke to reimburse all past EPA response costs, as well as all future oversight costs in connection with the coal ash spill.

A significant milestone

"This agreement represents a significant milestone in Duke Energy’s ongoing efforts to restore and monitor the Dan River and surrounding environment,” the company said in a statement. “Duke Energy is fully committed to the river’s long-term health and well-being. River water quality has returned to normal and drinking water has remained safe."

Coal ash at the site contains arsenic, cadmium, chromium, copper, lead, mercury, nickel, selenium and zinc, which are hazardous substances as defined under the Superfund law.

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