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Let’s talk about the coal ash spill…

It’ s another case of actual reality having to take precedence before virtual reality, but SouthsideCentral rolls on…

As most people know, there was a spill of coal ash from a Duke Energy power plant near Eden, NC. The coal ash and related waste spilled into the Dan River and has been making its way down. There’s been a lot of talk about it so let’s talk about it some more in SouthsideCentral style…

For reference, here’s a page that has all of the Danville Register & Bee’s coverage of the coal ash spill. I’m going to start out by saying that the R&B reporters have done a great job compiling all the information. That being said, let’s go to a Big Board Of Random Thoughts as we talk about what happened and where we go from here.

  • It is safe to drink treated water from the Dan River. It has always been safe to do that, it remains safe and it will continue to be safe during the duration of this incident. Danville’s water treatment crew has done an excellent job of reacting to the situation. The problem lessens quickly once we get to the next (South Boston) stop on the water treatment phase. Bottom line, it’s safe.
  • Even the untreated water has came below drinking water standards except for iron as of the latest tests. I wouldn’t have drunk directly from the Dan River before this incident and I’m not going to now. However, even I’m surprised that even the untreated water meets pretty much all of the drinking water standards.
  • Duke Energy blew it. They blew it big time and we’re lucky that Duke Energy has the deep pockets that will be able to rectify the situation and make the Dan River whole again. I’m not happy at all that the first 24 hours seemed to be a bit of obfuscation about what really happened, but I’ll have to get over that.
  • There has got to be some sediment which has sunk to the floor of the river by now and that could cause environmental problems down the road. Or it may not cause any environmental problems at all. No one knows. We’re going to have to keep a close monitor on that and Duke Energy is going to have to rectify those problems as well. They will.
  • Bad People are using this incident to advance their own causes. We’ve had one environmental group call the Dan River “highly toxic” (That’s a lie). We’ve had that Fearn descendent woman try to link this incident to her efforts to maintain a cemetery that’s a mile away from the river (That has no relevance at all). We’ve had Jack Dunavant try to link this to what will happen if uranium mining is ever allowed (He’s talking out of his ass as usual). Bottom line on this talking point… trust, but verify. Do not take statements of agenda-based groups at any face value until you factcheck what they’re really saying. Trust the water test results because they’ve been validated by independent testing labs.
  • The information is out there. Yesterday, a Virginia House of Delegates member said that he hadn’t heard anything regarding water safety tests. Even though this isn’t a “Thumbs!” article, I’m giving a big “Thumbs UP!” to Halifax County Emergency Services Director Kirby Saunders for straightening out the misinformation quickly and firmly.
  • There is no need to panic. There is a need to be concerned. Today on one of the R&B stories, a commenter said that “private schools are not using city water”. When I replied that’s nice, one of the usual anti-uranium people pulled out the “We can never be too safe.” That’s the same person who has the “Unless Proven Safe” small print at the bottom of her NO URANIUM MINING sign. That’s proof to me that her sign’s disclaimer doesn’t mean a thing to her… but that’s not related to this topic. It’s easy to say “We can never be too safe” when you’re not writing the checks.
  • Mother Nature has a miraculous habit of healing herself. Do you remember the Gulf of Mexico BP oil spill that was going to ruin the Gulf as we knew it with oil slicks coming up as far as the North Carolina coast? How’d that work out? Nature, time and lots of Duke Energy money will work wonders on making this problem fade away one day.
  • Yes, we need to learn lessons from this. Yes, regulations must change so that this never happens again anywhere. Yes, these things are already happening.

Bottom Line: The Dan River, Danville and Southside will get past this incident. Keep your eyes and ears open and factcheck everything that you read or hear about it.

3 comments to Let’s talk about the coal ash spill…

  • Mary Mitchell

    So I take it you will not be buying flats of bottled water , jugs, etc? I have to admit I have been feeling a bit Chicken Little on this and feeling an urge to stock up on bottled and jugs for the oft running coffeemaker in our house. Sure hope we do not get a surprise later on “downstream” with heavy metals, arsenic. etc. To me the water is bad enough on a good day but I sure hate buying and lugging a lot of bottled….and one is at the mercy of the bottler that it is really from that natural spring…and who knows what might be contaminating that!? Just makes me not want to drink , hehe.

    • You’re at the Banister River. The only thing you have to worry about is Jack Dunavant’s head exploding into the river. That’s happened every time he’s read my comments about him and the water’s just fine.

  • ChrisD

    Interesting that we have been using coal ash for years around here with no controversy. Coal ash is used as underlayment in road construction and in making brick and block. Where do they think the term “cinder” block came from! Wow, no uranium, no coal, gas too high….I guess we are back to living in caves with “fire”. Oh heck we cant do that either… ash. Amazing how people forget so easily what was dumped in the water years ago by Dan River yet now everyone is up in arms about something that can be filtered out!

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