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UPDATE POSTED SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 8: Danville Utilities has received a second set of test results. These results are from treated water samples collected on Tuesday, and they show Danville’s water is safe to drink.
The treated water samples were collected by Danville Utilities from the city’s reservoirs. Those samples were sent to a Virginia certified private lab. The lab tested the samples for the presence of arsenic, cadmium, chromium, copper, lead, selenium and zinc.
The lab found no detectable level of arsenic, cadmium, chromium or selenium. Low levels – all below public health standards for drinking water – of copper, lead and zinc were found.
Danville Utilities continues to collect raw water and treated water samples. Results will be made available to the public when they are received.
ORGINIAL STORY POSTED THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 6:
Danville Utilities received test results Thursday that continue to show Danville’s water is safe to drink.
The test results are from raw water samples collected from the Dan River at the city’s intake on Tuesday by Danville Utilities. Those samples were sent to a Virginia certified private lab. The lab tested the samples for the presence of heavy metals.
The lab found no detectable level of antimony, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead, nickel, silver or selenium. Low levels – all below public health standards for drinking water – of boron, calcium, copper, magnesium, sodium and zinc were found.
The level of iron in the raw water exceeded drinking water standards, but iron is easily removed in routine water treatment, said Barry Dunkley, division director of water and wastewater treatment for Danville Utilities.
In addition to collecting raw water samples, Danville Utilities on Tuesday collected samples of water entering the distribution system following treatment. Those samples also were sent to a Virginia certified private lab. Results will be made available to the public when they are received.
Danville Utilities continues to collect raw water and treated water samples. Samples collected on Wednesday and Thursday have been sent to the lab. Results will be made available to the public when they are received.
Duke Energy also continues to collect raw water and treated water samples in Danville. Those tests results continue to confirm the water entering the city’s distribution system following treatment meets drinking water standards.
The water samples collected by Duke Energy are analyzed for the presence of heavy metals.
A break Sunday afternoon in a storm water pipe beneath an ash basin at Duke Energy’s shuttered Dan River Steam Station in Eden, N.C., caused a release of ash basin water and ash into the Dan River.
Dunkley said Thursday the concentration of fly ash in the raw water drawn from the Dan River continues to decrease, and the city continues to remove successfully the ash from the raw water.
City Manager Joe King issued a statement on Thursday, which read in part as follows:
“We take very seriously our responsibility to consistently deliver clean drinking water and maintain the public’s confidence that we are doing so. Coming off the recent water contamination episode in West Virginia, people are understandably concerned and suspicious about assurances that water is safe to drink if contrary physical evidence (grey cloudy river water in our case) is apparent.”
He continued, saying, “Duke Energy officials have been in constant communication with us since Monday morning. This afternoon, Duke Energy CEO Lynn Good telephoned Mayor Saunders to apologize for the incident and bring him up to date on progress being made in stopping the leak. Virginia Governor McAuliffe telephoned the Mayor and offered help from the Commonwealth if needed. We will continue to monitor the situation and do our best to keep citizens informed.”
At 1 p.m. Friday, Duke Energy officials will meet with City Council and city staff to provide a review and update regarding the coal ash spill into the Dan River. The meeting will take place in the Council Chambers on the fourth floor of the Municipal Building. River City TV will broadcast the meeting. Watch it live on Comcast cable channel 10 or streaming at RiverCityTV.org.
Danville Utilities has been monitoring the situation, and it has been in consultation with multiple departments and agencies, including Danville Emergency Management, Duke Energy, the Office of Drinking Water at the Virginia Department of Health, Virginia Emergency Management, and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.
In response to questions received by the city regarding the health effects of coal ash in the Dan River, the following information from the Virginia Department of Health is being made available:
What is coal ash?
Coal ash is made of minerals, just like those in soil and rocks. It is a gray, powdery material that is leftover after coal is burned. Coal fly ash is collected with air pollution control equipment at power plants and is often kept wet (in holding ponds) to prevent it from getting into the air.
Is exposure to coal ash likely to cause harm?
In general, coal ash may contain the following metals: aluminum, antimony, arsenic, barium, beryllium, cadmium, chromium, cobalt, copper, iron, lead, lithium, magnesium, manganese, mercury, molybdenum, nickel, selenium, silver, strontium, thallium, tin, titanium, vanadium, and zinc. Exposure to coal ash can occur through contact with the skin, accidental ingestion, and inhalation. Short-term exposure to coal ash is unlikely to have any adverse health effects. In addition, we do not expect any long-term exposure to result from this spill. VDH is working with federal, state, and local agencies to evaluate available sampling data and keep residents informed.
Is my drinking water safe?
At this time, water results indicate that Danville’s drinking water meets drinking water standards. If you have a private well and live in Virginia, please consult with Southside Health District at (434) 799-5190. If you live in North Carolina and are concerned about your drinking water, please contact the Public Information Officer for N.C. Department of Water Resources at (919) 707-9014.
Is the Dan River safe to use for recreation?
VDH has not yet evaluated river water data for recreational safety. Until our evaluation is complete, VDH recommends exercising caution when using the Dan River for recreational purposes (boating, fishing, and kayaking). Direct contact with coal ash may cause skin irritation. Avoid contact with submerged or floating ash and if ash is contacted, wash off with soap and water.
Is it safe to eat fish from the Dan River?
VDH has an existing fish consumption advisory in place for the Dan River due to PCBs and mercury from historical activities not related to the recent coal ash spill. Do not eat flathead catfish greater than 32 inches, and do not consume more than two fish meals per month for several other fish species. Additional information on fish consumption advisories is available at: www.vdh.virginia.gov/Epidemiology/dee/PublicHealthToxicology/Advisories/
What is VDH doing to protect my health?
Several VDH offices, including the Office of Drinking Water and the Office of Epidemiology, will continue to work together to assess sampling results and determine if there are any risks to Virginia residents.
Whom do I contact with questions?
Contact VDH’s Danville Field Office for the Office of Drinking Water at (434) 836-8416 with drinking water concerns. Contact VDH’s Division of Environmental Epidemiology at (804) 864-8111 with questions about coal ash or health effects.