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« Seriously, though | Main | Buffalo Soldier »

Feb 28, 2014


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As bad as this is the important thing for tourism is to understand the layout of the county and the river. The river comes in from Stokes near Madison, far to the west of Eden and the spill site. Some of the more virgin areas of the county are along the Mayo that run into the Dan at Mayodan. Then the river snakes across near the entire length of the county to Eden and thence to the spill site in the south center of the city limits.

Most of the river tourism is in the Madison-Mayodan area and along Leakesville Landing in Eden itself, west of the spill site. The best fishing and kayaking is along the Mayo River.

These things should be noted as the river itself flows west to east and generally south to north toward Danville. The spill site is in the northeast eighth of Rockingham County.

Damn damning. From the Times article.

"Current and former state regulators said the watchdog agency, once among the most aggressive in the Southeast, has been transformed under Gov. Pat McCrory into a weak sentry that plays down science, has abandoned its regulatory role and suffers from politicized decision-making."


Danville, down river from the coal ash breech, pulls its water from the Dan and finds the coal ash so benign that they won't be changing the way the treat their water.


"Yes, it's safe to drink," said Barry Dunkley, the director of the Danville Utilities Water Treatment Plant. And he says he can prove it.

He's seen water quality results from Duke Energy but wanted to see results from an independent source.

He's pleased, and surprised with the results.

"Thank goodness it worked as it's supposed to work," Dunkley said. "The biggest thing that's showing up is iron and manganese which we can handle, no problem."

Environmentalists say coal ash is known to contain trace amounts of heavy metals, and dangerous substances like mercury and arsenic. He says all results came back clean. Dunkley says their water treatment routines haven't changed.

The Watauga Democrat concurs.

And for this nothing we need more regulation? As a reminder this event occurred despite regulations which have not been changed by the NC legislature.

Perhaps scoffing at hyperventilating environmentalist shrews, their "Church Lady" like finger-wagging, and their dizzy proclamations of disaster despite the facts would be the best course of action.

In fact, scoffing at environmentalist "direism" would go a long way toward avoiding the needless economic damage their adolescent hyperventilating causes regions they profess to protect.

As Ed quoted above,

...experts predict the economic losses could reach into the millions.
Too bad environmentalists are the source of that damage ... at least in this case.

Andrew Brod

The Watauga Democrat doesn't "concur." That's a news article; it's not agreeing or disagreeing with anyone.

Moreover, the Watauga Democrat article reveals a much more complicated situation than is dreamt of in Frog's philosophy (because ideology is all it is). The Danville results don't imply there's no damage. For one thing, the damage isn't limited to non-potability. Some of the substances in the coal ash are heavy and have sunk to the bottom. It'd actually be (relatively) good news if it was all washing down the river.

I think I've actually missed Frog. Reading his comment is like listening to a greatest-hits compilation.


I appears that the data does not concur with the Doc's preconceived notions and ideology. Oh my.

The Doc "scientifically" notes that heavy stuff sinks.

Let's turn to the data. Via GoDanRiver.

The latest water-quality tests show that concentrations of iron and aluminum [heavy stuff] in the Dan River near the site of the Eden coal ash spill continue to decrease, but aluminum still exceeds surface water quality standards at all upstream and downstream sampling locations.

but a little later notes,

Iron and aluminum have been high in historic water quality sampling conducted prior to the coal ash spill and are naturally occurring in soils in North Carolina, according to the department.

So, the Doc's referenced heavy stuff is naturally occurring and totally ordinary in NC. On my.

But what is in coal ash?

From Wiki (known also as fly ash and bottom ash)

Toxic constituents depend upon the specific coal bed makeup, but may include one or more of the following elements or substances in quantities from trace amounts to several percent: arsenic, beryllium, boron, cadmium, chromium, hexavalent chromium, cobalt, lead, manganese, mercury, molybdenum, selenium, strontium, thallium, and vanadium, along with dioxins and PAH compounds.[1][2]

In the past, fly ash was generally released into the atmosphere, but pollution control equipment mandated in recent decades now require that it be captured prior to release. In the US, fly ash is generally stored at coal power plants or placed in landfills. About 43% is recycled,[3] often used to supplement Portland cement in concrete production.

These are all naturally occurring elements that are harmlessly distributed through out nature. That said, these substances become harmful when concentrated. While the combustion process does indeed concentrate these substances, environmental measures via dangerous regulations further concentrate them making them that much more dangerous. Are such regulations, then, wise?

In the end, if environmentalists had not forced regulations that have only lead to the enhanced concentration of otherwise benign substances the Dan River would not be coated with coal ash today.

How 'bout we look into some more of those "charming" regulations?

Ed Cone

The issue is responsible disposal of waste products from coal plants. Releasing waste into the air is not the solution ( nor is storing ash by rivers. Lined and covered landfills seem to be a reasonable approach.


While releasing waste into the air is not the answer, as wind and rain tend to deposit the stuff in concentrated pockets, neither is concentrating otherwise benign elements by rivers or further concentrating the same in landfills an answer. Such concentrations are unnatural and hence dangerous.

The environment points to the proper answer. Safe dispersal.

Current environmental regulations, however, ignore the example of nature and as a result enhance the potential for unnecessary man-made disasters such as that along the Dan River.

But framing the discussion, as a choice between releasing the stuff into the air or concentrating the stuff in pockets of poison is to defend current regulation for the sake of defending regulation.

Real solutions come from open minds, the sort of open minds the Environmental movement and defenders of regulation are unable to provide.

Ed Cone

So we agree that neither releasing it into the air nor storing it by rivers is the right solution.

What method of safe dispersal would you recommend for the large and growing (by 100 million tons per year) amount of coal ash at well over 1,000 sites across the country?


---Understanding that mining is nothing more than a process by which naturally occurring minerals and elements are concentrated. (Mankind creates nothing, we only concentrate that which occurs naturally, whether it be gold, diamonds, iron, aluminum, petroleum or nuclear.)

---And understanding that it is not feasible to run our mining processes in reverse so as to reseed what remains in a natural and dispersed manner we should recognize that the planet has a natural ongoing process by which the reseeding of its elements occurs.

My suggestion would be to allow these elements to be redigested by the Earth along its seduction zones. Once within the hot churning currents of the mantle these naturally occurring elements would not only be chemically reconstituted, but would become more evenly distributed throughout the viscous layers upon which the continents ride only to one day be expelled to the surface or precipitated via vulcanism into the same sort of veins we mine today.

Man does not create matter, thus what we label man-made pollution should be recognized as nothing more than unnatural concentrations of naturally occurring substances. If a return to the planet's natural state is the goal then dispersal at the atomic level is the answer.

Ed Cone

Thanks, Frog. My only question about the highly realistic alternative you propose is the means of transport -- would you suggest dragon carts, or teleportation?


Fair enough... I was having fun.

We could simply use the coal ash as an aggregate in concrete which would result in its harmless dispersal throughout construction sites, highways, and public works projects.

Ed Cone

Yes, that's a widely-used approach, accounting for about 1/2 of annual coal ash production.

But we still need to deal with each year's very large excess capacity, plus the enormous amount of waste already stockpiled across the country.

So we still need a storage solution, and our current practice is unacceptable. Hence the move to lined landfills, as our neighbors in SC are doing.

Billy Jones

So you want to encourage concrete companies to use the other 1/2 of the annual coal ash production plus the stockpiles? Have the producers of the coal ash production pay the concrete companies to use it rather than mining screenings from rock.

These things aren't complicated, they simply require political will and getting peoples' hands out of policy makers' pockets.

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