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The City of Danville on Tuesday closed Abreu-Grogan Park on Memorial Drive to allow a Duke Energy contractor to begin removal of a large deposit of coal ash from the Dan River near the Schoolfield Dam.
Duke Energy expects its work will be finished and the park re-opened to the public in early July.
The park features a boat access ramp and a boathouse. The boathouse is open seasonally and allows water sports enthusiasts to rent a canoe, stand-up paddleboard or kayak hourly, daily or for the weekend. The Danville Parks and Recreation Department also uses the park as a river access point when it conducts water recreational classes.
“We will be able to move some of the classes we offer to Camilla Williams Park on Memorial Drive,” Parks and Recreation Director Bill Sgrinia said Friday. “However, the boathouse will be closed and access to the boat ramp will be blocked.
“Unfortunately, there is no alternative access point in Danville for citizens who want to rent canoes or kayaks and travel upstream.”
Duke Energy on Friday delivered compensation to the City of Danville for revenue the city will lose due to the closure of the park.
Once the park is closed, Duke Energy crews and contractors will prepare the site for the removal of the coal ash. Preparations will include erecting a fence at the park to provide security. The fence will not shield the activity from view, Duke Energy said.
Site preparations will take three to four weeks to complete. Once complete, crews will use vacuum dredging and dewatering equipment in the park and river to remove the coal ash. Duke Energy said the EPA and other agencies have reviewed the removal plan and techniques.
The deposit of coal ash is located on the north bank of the river, across from the park. It spans 350 yards by 20 yards, according to Duke Energy. It measures up to one foot in depth.
Crews will monitor the river and take steps to prevent movement of the coal ash during the removal process.
The deposit was created after a pipe under the main coal ash pond at Duke Energy’s shuttered Dan River Steam Station -- located 20 miles upstream from Danville -- broke on Feb. 2 and spewed 30,000-39,000 tons of coal ash and 24-27 million gallons of water into the river.