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Stokes County high schoolers studying Dan River coal ash spill

EDEN, N.C. — More than a week after 82,000 tons of coal ash spilled from a Duke Energy storm pipe into the Dan River, students at Stokes Early College High School are still trying to understand what it all means.

“Dan River is near us. Everyone was worried that it was in our water downstream,” said 10th grader Scotti Hooker.

That’s why Hooker asked her teachers to plan a field trip to the Dan River, so students could see the affected area first-hand. Yadkin Riverkeeper staff were also invited to provide background information to students on Duke Energy coal ash ponds across the state.

“They’re not just watching a video. It’s not happening across the world. It’s happening right here in their backyard,” said Sayrd Prince, a teacher at Stokes Early College High School.

Prince says students planned to test the water and write a blog about their findings, but with high levels of dangerous chemicals in the water, Riverkeeper staff suggested students keep their distance.

“This is toxic material. You need to have gloves and all the right equipment,” said Dean Naujoks, a Yadkin Riverkeeper. “People are concerned. It doesn’t surprise me that students would want to come out to get a better understanding, rather than just learning from a classroom what this coal ash spill will mean for the ecosystem.”

State officials are calling this the third worst coal ash spill in U.S. history. Although crews may have stopped this leak, students learned the problem isn’t solved.

“We have questions and want answers about why this is happening,” said Hooker.

The Environmental Protection Agency, along with state and local officials, plan to give the community an update on the cleanup efforts in Danville Tuesday evening.

5 comments

  • chandler@northstate.net

    Everyone I knew went tubing and kayaking down that river. I will never go back now. Duke Power and the Governer say’s “the waters fine”. don’t trust them.

    • thomas

      I worked in municipal water treatment for eight years (earning 3 grades of NC certification), all of that time dealing with or with waters feeding the Dan River, and much worse contamination occurs on a frequent basis after each heavy rain event (fertilizers, pesticides, arsenic/other chemicals, animal wastes, wastewater spills/overflows flow unchecked into countless points upstream), so the water is already “polluted” before Duke Energy and those evil Republicans committed their dastardly deed.

  • PeteandCarrie Hutchens

    Thomas .. you speak the truth but they don’t want to hear it.
    Been living here all my life , everything under the sun has been spilt in to that river, so it is going to be real hard to tell me burnt coal is the worst !

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