The water of North Carolina

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by georgiabrunner
Last updated 7 years ago

Environmental Studies

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The water of North Carolina

Location: Just South of Eden, N.C. at 36.5064° N, 79.7450° W. Population: Eden -15,500Area directly around spill- primarly inhabited Geology: sedimentary rock and metamorphic rock. Soil: patchwork of more than 50 types but are primarily formed from weathered sedimentary, igneous and metamorphic rock from surrounding uplands. The Dan River also is home to several protected areas for unique and sensitive ecosystems.7

The Water's of North Carolina -The Dan River SpillBy: Georgia Brunner


The Issue

Location Info


A Map of All the Coal Power Plants in North Carolina 7

A Deformed Bluegill Fish due to Coal Ash Above5Spread of Coal Ash in an Ecosystem Below6

A Video Newscast From the First Days of the Spill 2

A Map Showing the Spill Above8Map Showing Protected Area Along the Dan River Below8

North Carolina has 14 coal fired power plants today; even without a large scale leak, each plant releases pollutents into the waterways. Stopping coal ash from infiltrating the water is impossible while these plants still exist. Though the chance for a leak as large as this is unlikely to occur again, Duke Energy has yet to replace the rest of the pipe that leaked.9 If Duke Energy continues to be complacent with their infrastructure, the likelihood of such an event increases. Regulations on such infrastructure and the amount of pollutants that can be leaked are not nearly large enough to stop the negative effects that coal ash has on the environment

The spill into the Dan River represents the third largest of its kind in the United States. With such a dramatic change to the content of the water, dramatic changes to the surrounding ecosystem and even human interactions with the water have taken place. Because the pollutants from coal ash represent such a huge health risk to the protected ecosystems along the river, the US Fish and Wildlife Service has be instrumental in helping Duke Energy clean up the spill.9 The sheer size of the event means that Duke Energy continues to clean the water to this day. The coal ash has spread along the Dan River into Virginia. Additionally, there are concerns that the pollutants have contaminated groundwater from infiltration through the river.6 Because the event occurred so recently, little information on the long-term impacts is available, nor is there a body of scholarly work, however, coal ash has been a problem in North Carolina for many years, yielding information on the effects of coal ash on the ecosystem, economy, and human health. 3,6

There are two levels of mitigation for this spill and future spills. At the federal level, the EPA is currently working on a plan to reduce the amount of coal ash that is allowed to be produced and admitted into waterways.3 On the local level, scientists urge Duke Energy to mitigate the effects of spills and other leakage by pumping clean water into the polluted area, instead of dragging the bottom of the waterways, which can allow pollutants to enter the ecosystem.5 Others call for lining coal ash ponds.

An NPR Update on the Poltical Implications of the Spill 1

Abstract and References Attached Here


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