Monday, March 10, 2014
Updated 3/10/14 at 4:00 pm
DEQ head says he will hold Duke "accountable" for spill:
(Richmond, Va.) -- The head of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality says the state will hold Duke Energy "fully accountable" for the clean-up of the Dan River following last month's massive coal ash spill in Eden, N.C.
DEQ Director David K. Paylor said Monday that the agency is looking at the long-term health effects of the environmental disaster, a process he said is likely to take several years.
The DEQ is continuing its evaluation of the Dan River in the wake of the third largest coal ash spill in U.S. history.
Paylor says the agency remains focused on potential long-term effects on water quality and aquatic life in the river. He says sampling results of the treated drinking water for Southside localities that use the Dan River -- including Danville and South Boston -- have consistently met or exceeded all federal and state standards, and there are no public health concerns with drinking water.
Police probe theft of $15,000 in manhole covers:
(Danville, Va.) -- Danville Police are hoping the public will be able to shed some light on an unusual theft.
Investigators say $15,000 worth of manhole covers and inserts have been stolen from remote areas of the city.
33 were discovered missing February 28 from the pipeline that runs adjacent to Water Street and continues to the area of Wrenn Drive. Investigators say the pipeline running from Campbell Street to Wrenn Drive was also stolen.
During the thefts, the manhole frame is broken loose from the supporting concrete base. It’s believed that the thieves are using heavy equipment -- a tractor or possibly a backhoe -- in the crimes.
Authorities believe the manhole covers are being sold as scrap metal.
Danville Police are asking anyone with information on these thefts to call Danville Crime Stoppers at 793-0000. A reward has been offered for the arrest and conviction of the person, or persons responsible for the larcenies.
A Danville woman was injured this morning when her car hit a tree and slammed into a corner of the Harris Financial Services Center
(Leonard Harville photo)
Danville firefighters were able to rescue animals from a house fire Saturday. One dog died in the blaze.
Cause determined in house fire:
(Danville, Va.) -- An electrical short caused a fire off West Main Street that left a Danville family homeless.
The Danville Fire Department was called to 615 Hunter St. at 7:07 Saturday morning. Firefighters found the blaze had spread from the kitchen through the ceiling, engulfing the entire attic. Shortly after arrival, flames shot through the roof. Fire crews were able to knock down the flames from the exterior of the home.
All the occupants of the house made it out safely and there were no injuries to firefighters. A pet dog was found hiding under the living room sofa and was rescued from the burning building; however, a second dog died in the blaze.
Battalion Chief Dallas Swiney says the house was a total loss Three engines, one ladder truck, a command unit, a safety officer and two staff personnel responded to the call.
The Danville Fire Marshal's office investigated and traced the cause to an electrical short in some wiring. The single-story, frame home was gutted by the fire.
The incident commander arranged for the family to be put in touch with the American Red Cross and the agency is assisting them in finding temporary lodging and assistance.
General Assembly adjourns without budget:
(Richmond, Va.) -- Virginia lawmakers left Richmond Saturday without passing a $96 billion budget for the next two years.
Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe immediately called for a special session to begin in two weeks, saying he’s hopeful that lawmakers will return ready to pass a budget that includes expanding Medicaid eligibility to about 400,000 residents.
Republicans in the GOP-controlled House oppose the expansion, saying the current program needs to be reformed first. They also say expansion should be debated separate from the budget.
The issue has deadlocked the House and the Democratically controlled Senate, with almost no movement during the 60-day session.
Duke customers on the hook for coal ash removal costs:
(Raleigh, N.C.) -- Duke Energy Chief Executive Lynn Good says customers will shoulder most of the cost of emptying out the utility's 31 coal ash ponds in North Carolina. Spokeswoman Paige Sheehan says the company, not its customers, will pay to clean up the recent 39,000-ton coal ash spill in the Dan River. But if the state requires the utility to close down and move its other pits, then customers---not shareholders---will likely pay most of that cost. Duke's profits for the past fiscal year were $2.7 billion, with shareholder earnings up 25 percent over the prior year, largely on the strength of the company's controversial merger with Progress Energy.
Danville snow plows hit Riverside Drive.
(Leonard Harville photo)
Surprise snowfall totals:
(Danville, Va.) -- The National Weather Service says the Danville area received much more snow than predicted. Meteorologist Patrick Wilson admits "none of the models had a great handle on this situation." He says a wedge of high pressure kept the cold area pinched against the eastern side of the Blue Ridge." According to Wilson, when this moisture fell into that colder air, "it cooled everything aloft and we got more snow."
The original forecast called for more sleet than snow, which would have cut down on the total accumulation.
There was a mixture here in Danville, with twice the amount predicted.
(Richard Davis photo)
Southside lawmakers briefed on spill:
(Richmond, Va.) -- In a meeting with local lawmakers last week in Richmond, Virginia DEQ Director David Paylor said they’ve collected fish samples and have more test results coming in. He said current tests show no tissue contamination. Paylor says they’ll meet with the EPA and the Tennessee Valley Authority next week.
Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources Molly Ward said several state agencies will be meeting with Duke Energy today. She says they’re expecting Duke to take full responsibility.
John Daniel with the Attorney General’s Office says Virginia will keep records of all costs, consolidate those records and report them in a timely way, so that Duke Energy can be held fully accountable. He says they're evaluating all legal avenues.
John Aulbach, Director of the Office of Drinking water, reported that they have had extra staff continually taking samples of the drinking water since the spill incident. There has been simultaneous independent testing. His department has performed the tests in Richmond, while Danville had an independent private analysis. Both results have deemed the drinking water to be safe.