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They are then fileted or blended, and tested for any metals that are found in coal ash metals that experts say may stay in the river forever."There's not a whole lot that can be done treatment wise once these materials are in the environment," Buchwalter said.While impacts continue to be evaluated, the spill has prompted the state and environmental groups to start taking a closer look at all of Duke Energy's ponds."Drinking water, public safety there's a lot at stake," said Matthew Starr, with Neuse Riverkeeper. "It's not just an environmental problem."A Not So Invisible ProblemWith 14 coal plants across the state, North Carolina is one of the top 10 producers of coal ash in the country. At the 37 ash impoundments at those plants, 29 dams surrounding the ponds have been given a high hazard rating for the potential environmental damage if they were to collapse.Despite claims the company knew about the leaks at its ponds, Duke Energy insists that it "has complied with its existing water discharge permits.""Duke has done a really good job of downplaying the impact these coal ash ponds are having," Naujoks said. "Unfortunately Duke has had a lot of favoritism from DENR shielding them from enforcement."

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The Dan River DisasterCleanup of the Dan River began April 1 after a massive coal ash spill coated 70 Giuseppe Zanotti Boots Mens

miles of the waterway with toxic sludge.But it is just the start of what will be at least a two year process to clean up the entire mess left by a collapsed pipe at Duke Energy's retired Dan River Steam Station, as well as sites near Asheville and Charlotte.Abreu Grogan park in Danville, Va., closed April 1 to begin preparing the area for the waste removal project. Vacuum dredging will begin once site preparations are complete, and the entire project is expected to last until late June.Officials say the park is expected to reopen to the public in July.Duke Energy crews immediately started working to push back the leftover ash in the pond when the pipe collapsed Feb. 2, but it took nearly a week to stop the spill, which dumped thousands of tons of coal ash into the river."We're going to have this dubious distinction of the third largest coal ash spill in the nation, and that's not the distinction you want," said Eden Mayor Wayne Tuggle.Inspection reports dating back to 2006 obtained by WNCN Investigates show Duke Energy had long known of potential issues with the pipe. At the time, inspectors recommended using a camera to check inside the pipe for any leaks."Coal ash contains toxic elements in substantial amounts" said Dr. David Buchwalter, a toxicologist at North Carolina State University.Duke Energy has nearly three dozen coal ash ponds in North Carolina, and all of them sit right next to a river or lake; and all of them are leaking."Coal ash is the biggest contributor to water pollution in the country," said Dean Naujoks, with Yadkin Riverkeeper.Duke Energy took responsibility for the Dan River spill and the state immediately began running water tests. Officials say city drinking water is safe, but more potential long term impacts are starting to surface."You do worry about crops and the livestock and the aquatic life, and you want to have clean rivers," Tuggle said.Hundreds of acres of farm land Jimmy Choo Gold Loafers line the banks downstream from the Dan River Spill. Farmers like Jerry Apple use the river for irrigation and still doesn't know if the water is safe to use on his crops; and that uncertainty is an immediate problem as planting season for corn is right around the corner."Hopefully it's gone down the river and not going to be a problem, but we don't know that," Apple said.In addition to lead, mercury and arsenic, the ash also contains selenium, which has been shown to cause mutations in fish. Something river keepers have been fighting for years."It's a huge problem, and it's one that's been neglected for a long time," Waterkeeper Alliance attorney Peter Harrison said.WNCN Investigates joined the Department of Environment and Natural Resources as inspectors collected dozens of fish from the John H. Kerr Reservoir, one of five sites the state is using to test. Biologists will compare fish that haven't had time to be affected by possible contamination with fish they will catch and test again in a year."Some of the mid size [fish], those could potentially be consumed by people," Zanotti Sandals Price

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´╗┐WNCN investigates coal ash in NC

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said DENR Environmental Specialist Jeff DeBerardinis. "The smaller stuff is representative of what wildlife would consume."In the lab, the fish are classified, sorted and weighed. Giuseppe Zanotti Shoes Price

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