Dan River coal ash spill hurting Rockingham Co. businesses

ROCKINGHAM COUNTY, N.C. — The spilling of coal ash may have stopped but its effects are still far reaching for businesses along the Dan River.

Glenn Bozorth owns Dan River Adventures in Rockingham County and normally looks forward to the few weeks leading to spring.

“We do canoe trips, kayaking trips and tubing trips on the Dan River,” Bozorth said.

But this spring he’s worried that those upcoming trips — where he averages about 300 customers a weekend — won’t be as booked.

“I anticipate that we’re going to have some folks that decide not to come here,” he said.

A Duke Energy pipe burst on Feb. 2, spilling tons of toxic coal ash into the Dan River.

Bozorth’s business is located about 15 miles upstream from where the spill happened.

“None of that toxic sludge is drifting past us or anybody in our immediate neighborhood,” Bozorth said.

Even so, it’s already affecting business. The day after news broke about the spill he got his first cancellation.

“They had been planning a large family reunion,” Bozorth said. “They wanted to let me know that they wouldn’t be coming here.”

“It’s all bad,” said Robin Yount, vice president of tourism for Rockingham County Partnership. “It affects so many things.”

Things affected include tourism dollars, which Rockingham County depends on in the spring and summer.

“Our number one marketing effort is outdoor and river recreation,” Yount said.

Yount wants to make it clear that the spill didn’t affect the entire Dan River.

“You can still come to Rockingham County and get on clean water,” Yount said. “This is just one section.”

Even with his business in mind, Bozorth hopes the spill highlights a bigger issue.

“Are we going to protect our resources?” he asked.



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