Butterfield Statement on Dan River Coal Ash Spill

WASHINGTON, DC — Congressman G. K. Butterfield (NC-01) today released the following statement concerning the February 2, 2014 coal ash spill from a Duke Energy coal ash pond in Rockingham County, North Carolina:  

“I am deeply concerned about the potential health and environmental threats posed by the coal ash spill on the Dan River in Rockingham, North Carolina.  Evidence of coal ash from the spill has been observed as much as 70 miles downstream and could reach Kerr Lake and Lake Gaston which provide drinking water to many counties in northeast North Carolina.  At this point the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has said water in the region is safe to drink after treatment.  However, it is critical that Duke Energy work with local, state, and federal officials to contain the spill, rehabilitate the environment from any harm caused by coal ash release, and restore the public’s confidence that their drinking water is safe and the river is ready for use. 

“Out of my concern for the safety of North Carolinians and as a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, I spoke directly with Mr. Paul Newton, president of Duke Energy’s utility operations in North Carolina, and Mr. George Everett, Director of Environmental and Legislative Affairs at Duke Energy to better assess the situation.  Duke Energy has plugged the leak from the coal ash pond and is working in conjunction with the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to test the safety of the water and conduct cleanup activities including the vacuuming of coal ash sediment from the river.  Duke Energy has assured me that any clean up associated with the Dan River incident will not affect ratepayers.   

“I will continue to monitor the situation closely and gather information from officials on the ground.  I look forward to reviewing future reports on the management of the coal ash pond and the spill from proper authorities.

“Like all North Carolinians it is my expectation that this cleanup be thorough and swift.  This spill could have been avoided and I will review options to prevent future spills.”