Community reacts to Duke Energy coal ash settlement

Published: Apr. 20, 2016 at 5:43 PM EDT
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Danville City Council approved a $2.4 million settlement with Duke Energy over the 2014 coal ash spill but people are asking if it's enough to fix the impact on the Dan River.

Two years later, the Danville community is looking for closure and ways to recover from the thousands of tons of coal ash that spilled from the Duke Energy Plant in Eden North Carolina and into the Dan River.

"I don't think that will be as close to enough money," Community Member Robert Wall said.

Duke Energy will pay the city 2.4 million dollars because of the spill.

Plus, another 500 thousand dollars is already in place for improvements to Abreu Grogan park.

The company is in the process of removing coal ash from the plant and building lined basins to prevent future spills.

" Well it certainly is a good thing. Everyone's pleased with the arrangement," Danville City Manager Ken Larking said.

City leaders say half of the settlement money is broken up into many Department of Environmental Quality projects.

"And the focus of those projects are things that would bring people back to the Dan River. Something that we have been trying to do for a long time," Larking said.

Speeding up the process for projects like this along trade street. City leaders say they will be able to expand the river walk trail sooner than expected.

"Mostly parks and recreation related but also projects related to water quality," Larking said.

The other half, about 1 point 2 million dollars the city will be receiving in cash to use however leaders choose to.

"There is no plan yet for that, the city council will have to discuss that," Larking said.

Right now, the money will be put into the general fund.

"A lot of businesses were also affected so I think some of the money could go to them as well," Wall said.

"Putting more bathrooms on the trail, more places to have something to drink," Community member Stella Fitzgerald said.

"Taking care of streets, whatever needs to be done that they do not have the funds for now that really needs to be addressed," Community Member Vicki Green said.

Dan River Basin Association leaders say they are happy to see this issue moving forward.

The hope is that this brings positive attention back toward the river.