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Virginia and North Carolina Environmental Officials Finalize Dan River Settlement Agreement

Sept. 22, 2020

CONTACT: Ann Regn 
Ann.Regn@DEQ.Virginia.gov
804-698-4442

VIRGINIA AND NORTH CAROLINA ENVIORNMENTAL OFFICIALS FINALIZE DAN RIVER SETTLEMENT 
Consent Decree for restoration agreement will be final

RICHMOND, Va. – As Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration (NRDAR) trustees, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality, along with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, have filed a motion in federal court that requests the judge to approve and enter a consent decree to resolve the trustees' claims for natural resource damages, resulting from the 2014 Dan River coal ash spill.

“Transparent community involvement was a vital part of this multi-agency partnership between Virginia and North Carolina as we shaped the important projects in the restoration plan to rehabilitate our natural resources,” said Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources Matthew J. Strickler. “Filing the consent decree will ensure all work is completed to enhance cleaner water, beautiful landscapes and our many outdoor recreation venues.” 

Four projects have been selected as meeting restoration goals; three of those have been completed early. Completion of the last project – improved recreational access to the Dan River – is expected after the court filing. Selected projects include:  

  1. acquisition and conservation of the Mayo River floodplain and riverbank adding up to 619 acres to the Mayo River State Parks in North Carolina and Virginia for long-term stewardship (completed),
  2. aquatic habitat restoration in the Pigg River via removal of the Power Dam returning riverine conditions to 2.2 miles, benefiting game fish such as smallmouth bass, and the federally and state listed Roanoke logperch and other nongame fish (completed),
  3. establishment of public boat launch facilities on the Dan River (ongoing), and 
  4. improvements to the Abreu Grogan Park in Danville, Virginia, including new amenities and other improvements that address impacts related to park closure during spill response activities (completed).  

On Feb. 2, 2014, a stormwater pipe underneath the primary coal ash basin at the Duke Energy Dan River Steam Station failed, resulting in the spill of approximately 27 million gallons of coal ash wastewater and between 30,000 and 39,000 tons of coal ash into the Dan River, resulting in documented ash or ash-like material co-mingled with native sediment in North Carolina and Virginia as far as 70 river miles downstream. 

The Dan River spill NRDAR process included collecting and reviewing monitoring data in the Dan River for several years after the completion of the cleanup as well as identifying projects that would restore the habitat and gathering public input about those project ideas. In Oct. 2014, the Trustees invited restoration project ideas from the public to help identify the types and scale of restoration needed to compensate for those injuries. Public feedback showed support for land protection and conservation projects, dam removals, and increasing public access to the river. 

The final restoration plan and environmental assessment can be found at: https://www.cerc.usgs.gov/orda_docs/DocHandler.ashx?task=get&ID=6321. The Dan River Case page can be found at: https://www.cerc.usgs.gov/orda_docs/CaseDetails?ID=984&ex=1857

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Virginia Department of
Environmental Quality
P.O. Box 1105
Richmond, VA 23218
(804) 698-4000


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