Dan River Coal Ash Spill

State TrusteeState TrusteeAO Bureau

Also Known As

Incident Type


North Carolina

Case Status



Rockingham county and beyond


Contaminants of Concern Include

Affected DOI Resources Include

Threatened and Endangered Species, Migratory Birds

Case Description

At approximately 1500 hours on February 2, 2014, security officials at the Duke Energy Dan River Steam Station (Facility) located in Eden, North Carolina, noticed liquefied coal ash leaking from a buried storm sewer into the Dan River. According to EPA approximately 39,000 tons of ash and 27 million gallons of ash pond water were released. These releases may have affected reaches of the Dan River in North Carolina and Virginia over many miles downstream and natural resources for which Federal and State agencies may assert trusteeship under Section 107(f) of CERCLA and the National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan.

Coal ash is a gray, powdery byproduct of burning coal to produce energy. It is composed of materials remaining after coal is burned, including fine sand (called silica), unburned carbon, various metals, and compounds that have potential to be Contaminants of Potential Concern (COPCs).  Based on initial screening of environmental samples following the spill, COPCs associated with coal ash on which to focus NRDA investigations related to the Dan River ash release include, but may not be limited to, arsenic, copper, selenium, iron, turbidity, zinc, and lead.

The natural resources affected or potentially affected by the release include, but are not limited to the following:
  • freshwater fish, including the federally listed endangered Roanoke logperch (Percina rex);
  • migratory birds, including songbirds, waterfowl, raptors, and others;
  • lands, including wetlands, flood plain, and instream;
  • aquatic and terrestrial plants, invertebrates, including the federally listed endangered James spinymussel (Pleurobema collina), and microorganisms, and;
  • surface waters and sediments.
The ecosystem services provided by these natural resources include, but are not limited to, the following:
  • habitat for trustee species, including food, shelter, breeding areas, and other factors essential to survival, and;
  • recreational uses such as sport fishing, water-contact recreation, boating, canoeing, hiking, nature observation, hunting, and other activities.
The following link contains additional information: https://www.duke-energy.com/_/media/pdfs/our-company/ash-management/dan-river-ltmp-report.pdf

The Duke Energy steam station where the incident occurred

Case Documents

 Document TypeDocument NameDocument Date


 Factsheet Dan River Coal Ash Spill 06/09/2014
 Factsheet Restoration Plan Fact Sheet 07/26/2019


 FPA Funding and Participation Agreement 06/09/2014
 MOA/MOU Trustees Agreement 05/05/2014


 Assessment Plan Assessment Plan 12/02/2015
 NOI final Notice of Intent 03/04/2014
 PAS Preassessment Screen and Determination 03/19/2014
 Restoration Scoping Document Restoration Project Proposals 12/01/2014
 Restoration Scoping Document Restoration Scoping Document 10/01/2014


 Consent Decree Dan River Consent Decree 07/26/2019


 Restoration Plan and Environmental Assessment Dan River Coal Ash Spill Draft Restoration Plan and Environmental Assessment 04/01/2019


 Powerpoint Presentations Dan River Draft RPEA Presentation to the Community 08/05/2019
 Powerpoint Presentations Dan River Poster Presentation 08/05/2019
 Powerpoint Presentations Dan River Restoration Poster 08/02/2019

Map View

Case Contact

Raleigh Ecological Services Field Office

Raleigh, NC | 919-856-4520 x30 | http://www.fws.gov/raleigh/

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