Three weeks following a catastrophic coal ash spill at a Duke Energy facility, biologists are looking into how fish have fared in the Dan River along the North Carolina-Virginia border. They’ve captured samples that will be examined in a lab for contamination from pollutants such as arsenic, mercury, chromium, selenium, magnesium, lead, copper, and zinc.
Signs at the Milton boating access, meanwhile, warn people not to eat fish from the river or to touch the water without washing with soap immediately afterward.
And a researcher says that the spill will cause at least $70 million in damage to fish, wildlife, and other economic values associated with the river. “It will almost certainly go up, perhaps way up, from there by a factor of 5 to 10,” Dennis Lemly said.
Those who collected fish said the river looked relatively normal with the number and species that they would expect to see this time of year, according to the News & Record.
Not far away, the fallout continues from a chemical spill in West Virginia’s Elk River during early January.
The West Virginia Rivers Coalition and Downstream Strategies have identified 63 potential pollution threats in a new report. They include 40 commercial, 17 industrial, and 5 municipal facilities, including everything from above-ground storage tanks to wells producing natural gas.
The spill at Freedom Industries forced 300,000 people to turn off their taps and use bottled water for 5 to 10 days.
Long-term effects to the river and its aquatic life still are being assessed. Shortly after the spill, investigators said that impact on fish appeared minimal, according to Metro News.