Duke Energy has completed the cleanup of a coal ash deposit and river sediment near the Schoolfield Dam, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will scale back its monitoring of the Dan River.
City Council received the news Tuesday night during its semi-monthly business session.
“The data shows to us little need for sampling, said Myles Bartos, on-scene coordinator for EPA Region 3. “There is nothing out there as a result of the coal ash spill that is a cause for concern.”
Bartos said the EPA has taken 110 samples in the dredge area near the Schoolfield Dam, and more than 600 samples along the Dan River from the spill site in Eden, N.C., to Kerr Reservoir.
Coal ash was released into the river 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.
Bartos told City Council that all tests have shown safe drinking water and a quick return to normal levels of chemicals associated with the spill. The surface water of the river is safe for recreation, tests show.
The Virginia Department of Health’s warning about the quantity of fish that is safe to eat from the Dan River remains the same as it was prior to the coal ash spill.
Bartos said EPA sampling likely would occur only quarterly, but that state agencies will continue sediment, fish tissue and other biological sampling.
In addition, Duke Energy reports it has conducted nearly 2,000 surface and drinking water samples. The results showed safe drinking water quality since the beginning of the event, with surface water quality returning to normal conditions within days of the event.
Davis Montgomery, Duke Energy district manager, reported to City Council that dredging was completed earlier this month just upstream from the Schoolfield Dam. Crews are now removing equipment and restoring Abreu-Grogan Park, which was closed to allow for the dredging operation.
Duke Energy contract crews began dredging operations on May 6. Dredging ended in the first week of July. Crews there removed 2,500 tons of coal ash and river sediment. The material removed was transported to a permitted landfill in Person County, N.C.
All operations were conducted under the direction of the EPA and in conjunction with state and other federal agencies.
Demobilization and restoration at the park are expected to take at least two more weeks. Montgomery said gravel placed over the parking lot and grass will be removed. Duke Energy will repair and repave portions of the parking lot and reseed grass areas.
In addition, Montgomery said the company is talking with the city’s Parks and Recreation Department to determine possible enhancements to the park. Those enhancements could include improved access to the river for fishing and boating, Montgomery said.
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 Parks and Recreation Department also uses the park as a river access point when it conducts water recreational classes.
Duke Energy has delivered compensation to the City of Danville for revenue the city lost due to the closure of the park.