FOX8 Investigates: Dan River coal ash spill cleanup

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EDEN, N.C. -- More than two months after the coal ash spill into the Dan River in Eden, state and Duke Energy officials continue to emphasize the time and money cleanup efforts will take.

In a March letter, Duke Energy pledged to move coal ash from and close the Dan River sites within thirty months.

The company has not released detailed long-term plans for its other sites yet.

"There’s still 14 disasters waiting to happen," said Frank Holleman, senior attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center. "You do not have to have a doctorate to figure out this is a bad idea."

Holleman pointed out two energy companies in South Carolina, Santee-Cooper and SCE&G. Both are working on coal ash excavations.

Santee-Cooper Spokesperson Mollie Gore says their company is proud of its proactive approach to moving dry and wet coal ash and making it marketable to cement and concrete companies.

"It has significant environmental benefits, it creates jobs, and it is cost-effective for our customers," Gore explained. "It is absolutely worth it for Santee Cooper to do this. "

Gore estimated it will take 10-15 years to recycle 11 million tons of ash at three different generating stations. The pricetag is about $250 million.

An SCE&G representative told FOX8 in a statement, "In 2013, more than 90 percent of the ash generated company-wide was recycled. All ash that is removed from the ponds moving forward will either be recycled or placed in a lined landfill."

Holleman believes Duke Energy should start cleanup efforts at all sites in North and South Carolina immediately. "There’s a basic principle we tell all our kids. If you make a mess, you ought to clean it up."