Residents in the city of Eden, North Carolina are currently in danger of having their drinking water destroyed thanks to Duke Energy. The coal giant has reported a coal ash spill in the Dan River with as much as 82,000 tons of the toxic pollutant released into the waterway.
According to EcoWatch, it took an astounding 24 hours after the accident occurred for Duke to issue a press release to inform the public about the chemicals that were very quickly making their way down river. It is currently estimated that 22 million gallons of coal ash are now flowing along the river. The spill has already been declared the third largest in U.S. history.
This was not an unavoidable catastrophe.
Duke was warned by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in September 2009 that the coal ash storage site was falling apart, and the EPA even noted several instances of coal ash sludge already leaking from corroded pipes. The EPA report also noted that portions of the dam that were supposed to be keeping the coal ash in its retention pond were crumbling.
The coal ash spill is the second major environmental chemical spill in less than a month, following the West Virginia chemical spill in early January.