New Duke Estimate Shows Less Ash Spilled Into Dan River

Feb 12, 2014

Workers in yellow jackets work to seal the broken pipe at the Dan River coal plant last week.
Credit Ben Bradford / WFAE

A revised estimate shows less coal ash than previously thought leaked into the Dan River during a spill last week. Duke Energy now says less than 40,000 tons spilled into the river.

When that stormwater pipe burst ten days ago under a Duke Energy ash pond, the company estimated up to 82,000 tons of ash had spilled into the river, or about 8 percent of the entire pond. Water and ash continued to leak throughout the week as crews worked to plug the pipe. Regulators and Duke promised an updated number once the leak was sealed, which occurred early Saturday morning.

Now, Duke says it has calculated a new number—between 30 and 39 thousand tons of ash spilled, along with 27 million gallons of the water containing it. The leak is still one of the largest coal ash spills in history, but far less than the billion tons that spilled in Tennessee five years ago.