Picnic for the Dan River: Eden community rallies after coal ash spill for World Water Day

Guest Blog | March 20, 2014 | Press Releases

Jenny Edwards, Dan River Basin Association, [email protected], 336-339-6169
Joan Walker, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, [email protected], 828-254-6776 x7
Emily Feinberg, Waterkeeper Alliance, [email protected], 212-747-0622 x124


Speakers, residents and clean water advocates will rally at Island Ford Landing in Eden on World Water Day, Saturday, March 22 from noon to 1:30 to celebrate the Dan River and all the rivers throughout the Dan River Basin, and call on Duke Energy to provide information on how it plans to clean up from last month’s coal ash spill at the Dan River power plant.

Last month, more than 39,000 tons of toxic coal ash and 24 million gallons of contaminated wastewater spilled from Duke Energy’s coal ash impoundments north of Eden, spurring significant public outcry to protect all of North Carolina’s rivers from this dangerous threat. The spill also created a stigma on the rivers here, said Jenny Edwards, program manager for the Dan River Basin Association.

“Recovery from this disaster includes changing the public perception that the entire Dan is toxic, because that’s just not the case,” Edwards said.

The spill impacted residents and wildlife downstream of Eden, but upstream stretches of the river are still safe for visitors. Still, the Eden community is eager to put this devastating episode behind it.

“The damage from the Duke Energy coal ash spill will be felt for many years on the 70-mile section of the Dan River that flows downstream from the spill site,” said Tiffany Haworth, Executive Director for the Dan River Basin Association (DRBA). “DRBA’s members, volunteers and supporters can count on us to do all we can to achieve our mission of protecting and promoting the Dan River basin. I encourage people to get involved in helping with recovery efforts of the Dan River and invite everyone to come and explore the unaffected Dan River and its tributaries in our 3,300 square mile Dan River basin.”

In order to ensure the downstream river is safe for tourists, hikers, boaters and anglers, coal ash must be removed from the water. The ash ponds at the Dan River Steam Station also must be cleaned out and moved to dry, lined landfills away from the Dan River.

“The Southeast is home to 450 coal ash dump sites scattered near waterways and communities. Many are old, unsafe, and leaking just like those at the Dan River,” said Ulla Reeves, High Risk Energy Program Director for Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. “As long as these impoundments remain next to waterways, they will continue leaking toxins into our precious water resources, and it’s just a matter of time until the next large-scale coal ash disaster happens.”

The free event runs from 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. and will feature food, free drawings for prizes, and music by the Dan River Girls. It will be held at Island Ford Landing, located on the left just before crossing the 700 Bridge on the Smith River, and at the north end of the Smith River Greenway in Eden, N.C. Overflow parking is available at Three Rivers Outfitters on the traffic circle. For directions and more information, contact Jenny Edwards at [email protected]. Media and the public are encouraged to attend.