Archive for February, 2014


KLPW’S Frank Timberlake appeared on WIZS’ Town Talk today to discuss Kerr Lake Park Watch’s agenda, work and plans.  In that broadcast, Timberlake announced his mistrust of NCDENR to be the sole agency in charge of the coal ash spill and subsequent reporting because of increasingly better water test results in eastern North Carolina that were withheld from the public for nearly 30 years by DENR.  Timberlake and his PR team broke that story backed up with research and documentation, plus peer review.

Timberlake also, for the first time, announced on the radio program that he sees a problem with the Corps of Engineers who owns the lake not calling out Duke Power over the coal ash spill.  Timberlake said that he just learned last week that the Corps, from Kerr Lake’s power generation plant, does sell electricity made at Kerr Lake to Duke Power.

You can hear the entire broadcast if you so choose by clicking on this link:

WIZS is a Henderson, NC radio station.


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A little over three years old and Kerr Lake Park Watch comes up near the top of most Google searches on all things Kerr Lake.  The group is now a named stakeholder with the U S  Army Corps of Engineers which owns and operates Kerr Lake.

KLPW, without membership drives, now has over 250 members.  Last week KLPW reviewed campsite rehab RV sites with the Superintendent for the 7 NC recreation areas and the editor of the Daily Dispatch.  KLPW made enough noise to get discussions on hydrilla.  Now a new possible threat, coal ash, looms as the group seeks answers.
The spokesman for and one of the founders of Kerr Lake Park Watch, Frank Timberlake will be the guest on Town Talk at 11:00 AM tomorrow,   Wednesday, February 26th.  Town Talk is a community issues and info live program on WIZS, 1450 AM in Henderson.  The program is also streamed live on the Internet and can be heard later on podcasts.
Timberlake and George Rush will discuss current issues at Kerr Lake and the organization’s goals.


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WRAL: Lawmakers Look At Coal Ash Spill – NC Governor On Defensive

FROM WRAL & NEWS REPORTS – State lawmakers on Monday took their first long look in five years at regulating coal ash ponds at North Carolina power plants – and it likely is the first of several this year after a massive ash spill in the Dan River two weeks ago.

No action was taken during the four-hour meeting of the Environmental Review Commission, which also reviewed a recent spill of 3.5 million gallons of untreated sewage in the Haw River at Burlington.

Duke Energy has estimated up to 82,000 tons of ash spilled from two ponds at a defunct coal-fired power plant in Eden after a storm water pipe that ran under the ponds ruptured on Feb. 2. The ash, which is left over after coal is burned, contains arsenic and various heavy metals.

Coal Ash Spill


At times Monday, it seemed as if state regulators were on the same side as Duke, with both stating they’ve done everything required by law to deal with the spill. Environmental advocates angered by the spill were on the other side of the argument, urging lawmakers to crack down on Duke to prevent another spill.

Duke environmental director George Everett apologized to lawmakers for the spill and reiterated a pledge made 10 days ago by Paul Newton, the utility’s North Carolina president, to do whatever it takes to rectify the problem.

“We sure do appreciate that Duke Energy’s taken responsibility for it. It’s hard to imagine who else would take responsibility for it,” said Jenny Edwards, program manager for the Dan River Basin Association. “We look forward to see what the plan is to remediate what’s happened to our river.”

Everett said Duke halted the flow of ash-laden water into the river as quickly as possible, noting the solution took some planning and some engineering to ensure it would work. Duke has blocked off the ruptured pipe and plans to remove a second storm water line under the ash ponds, he said.

Sen. Austin Allran, R-Catawba, called placing a storm water drain under toxic ponds “kind of dumb” and questioned why Duke didn’t routinely inspect the pipe and didn’t line the ponds so they wouldn’t leak.

Everett said the ponds were created decades ago in an age when dumps weren’t lined. The storm water line was there even before the ponds were expanded over it, he said.

Tom Reeder, director of the Division of Water Resources, also noted that there are no federal regulations regarding handling coal ash, although some are expected later this year.

Meanwhile, the media continues to dig at Governor Pat McCrory’s ties to Duke Power.  In one of the most recent developments, it’s been made public that McCrory holds Duke Power stock in his 401K plan.  That is on top of charges that NCDENR has not been as tough about coal ask storage as might be necessary.

Posted in: KLPW - Environmental, KLPW - MAIN NEWS, KLPW - WATER RELATED

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One week later answers have changed from bad to good and from bad to worse. Hope still exists for minimal impact.

The lead person for the North Carolina Department of Environment & Natural Resources NCDENR now says that the potential impact to the John H. Kerr Reservoir from the coal ash spill just over a week ago at a defunct Eden, NC power plant on the Dan River will most probably be minimized due to the distance and the twists and turns of the Dan River.

Since the 82,000-ton coal ash spill which grayed the Dan on Sunday, February 2, KLPW has been posing one question to environmental and governmental agencies: “Will the coal ash spill have a serious contamination effect on Kerr Lake?”  There is at least an educated guess at that.

Speaking with KERR LAKE PARK WATCH, Tom Reeder the Director of the NC Division of Water Resources in NCDENR, which is the lead agency on the spill said, “DWR is in the process right now of developing and implementing a comprehensive monitoring and assessment strategy that will determine the extent of the effects, if any, of the coal ash release from the Duke Dan River Plant on Kerr Lake.  Due to the distance of Eden from Kerr Lake it is expected that most of the coal ash will have settled out of the water before it reaches the lake, but, due to the unique nature of this event it is impossible to predict the eventual outcome.  If any coal ash does reach the lake it will most likely be limited to the lake headwaters in Virginia.  NC DWR staff is prepared to partner with Virginia regulatory authorities to determine if any ash does reach the headwaters of Kerr Lake.   More detailed info on this comprehensive monitoring plan will be contained in my briefing to the ERC, Environmental Review Committee which is a non-standing legislative committee which convenes to study issues and incidents like the coal ash spill.”  The ERC committee will meet on the issue Wednesday.

In a phone meeting with KLPW’s Public Affairs head, Frank Timberlake, Reeder was asked about all the weather events that usually shape a wet and full lake pool in late winter and early spring at Kerr Lake.  Reeder responded, “Rainfall should provide not much impact either way.  If you have a lot of sediment near Danville, significant rainfall could make sediment move again a little farther downstream.”

Timberlake followed, “And what’s in the settling sediment that can harm people or wildlife?  Reeder responded, “It’s heavy metals, it’s really, my best guess they are more of a threat to aquatic life but it would have to be exposure over a long time.”

The Dan River, and some of Kerr Lake, is already deemed to be over safe limits on PCB’s and Mercury.  In a news release prepared Friday but released yesterday NCDENR said it had misread arsenic levels in the Dan River.  The release stated, “For the Dan River at and below the spill site in North Carolina, two separate standards (for arsenic levels) have been adopted and are enforced — one standard for aquatic life of 50 micrograms per liter, and one for human health of 10 micrograms per liter.

In DENR’s release of test results on Thursday, the agency was relying on surface water quality standards for aquatic life when reporting results. The arsenic concentrations collected on Feb. 3 below the spill site were 40 micrograms per liter at the site closest to the spill (Draper Landing) and 13 micrograms at the Virginia state line.”  Those indicate a higher than acceptable level of arsenic.

According to KLPW’s Timberlake, “Our sympathies go out to the people and to the river support organizations along the Dan River.  But the toughest thing is not facing what may or may not happen to Kerr Lake, the toughest thing is getting someone to give us a little straight talk.  That’s what we want.  In Tom Reeder’s case some of his initial findings may have varied, but he’s the first official who has stood up and tried to relate to our interest, Kerr Lake.”

There is concern within Kerr Lake Park Watch and other groups interested in the lake that NCDENR’s experience with such spills is limited.  “We feel a little better knowing that Reeder and some of his colleagues now are aware and probably taking advantage of the knowledge and historical base at the Corps of Engineers water research and resource group,” said Timberlake.  He refers to the ERDC branch of the Corps at Vicksburg, MS.  “Once the scrambling lightens up, I think it will be like the coal ash settling down, we should get some definitive answers about impact to Kerr Lake.”

-30-   END – Names and contacts of public officials with Kerr Lake management responsibilities can be furnished by contacting KLPW at


#ncdenr, #coalashspill, #kerrlakecontamination,  #environmentalmishaps,  #danriverdisaster, #kerrlake



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As of right now, coal ash waste and water, although reduced, is still flowing into the #DanRiver from the Duke Power holding pond near Eden, NC.  Several sources have told Kerr Lake Park Watch that the water near Danville, VA is a murky gray.

There have not yet been any plausible comments about the potential contamination effects on the #John H. Kerr Reservoir from NC DENR or the equivalent agency in Virginia.  Officials at the US Army Corps of Engineers say that NC DENR is the lead agency on the spill.  However, NC DENR officials aren’t responding to questions about Kerr Lake.  The DENR Public Affairs Officer Drew Elliott has not responded to KLPW.  This afternoon, the PA Officer for the Division of State Parks called KLPW to say that his division doesn’t know much about the spill or impact to the lake.

Michael T. Womack the Operations Project Manager at John H. Kerr Reservoir today said, “Our Water and Emergency Management officials have been monitoring the situation with the coal ash spill into the Dan River, and have been in contact with state emergency management officials as well as local water system managers.  They are following the situation closely.  However, it is the state of NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources that is the lead agency for this incident. Our water and emergency management team will continue to monitor the situation at John H. Kerr Reservoir and will maintain ongoing communication with North Carolina and Virginia state officials, along with water system managers.”

The Corps is also using its extensive water and scenario research arm to discover the spill’s impact on the lake, “Our water and emergency management teams are in consultation with the USACE Engineering, Research & Development Center in Vicksburg, MS to see how they can assist us in understanding the possible impacts of this incident on the reservoir,” said Daniel Brown, from the Lakes Branch of the Corps’ Wilmington Headquarters, commenting to Kerr Lake Park Watch.

In an updated story by Danville Register-Bee reporter Denice Thibodeau, “Barry Dunkley, director of water and wastewater treatment for Danville Utilities, said turbidity — the amount of solids present in water samples — has decreased dramatically since Sunday, when levels in incoming water reached 400 NTU (nephelometric turbidity units), to less than 100 NTU Wednesday.”

Danville continues to take tests on site, but other tests for heavy metals and such aren’t expected to be back from the State of Virginia until today.

Thibodeau’s report continued with, “As far away as Virginia Beach, there are concerns about the coal ash spill.  Dunkley said he has heard that the Dan River has turned ash gray as far as Buggs Island Lake. Thomas Leahy, director of public utilities for Virginia Beach, said that city’s officials took the precautionary step of turning off the pumps at Lake Gaston until the full effect of the spill can be determined.”

Amy Adams, North Carolina campaign coordinator with Appalachian Voices, shows her hand covered with wet coal ash from the Dan River swirling in the background (Yahoo-AP)

Response from the Roanoke River Basin Association was seemingly focused on future closings of coal ash ponds at utilities.  RRBA posted on its Facebook page, “ROANOKE RIVER BASIN ASSOCIATION REACTS TO THE COAL ASH DISASTER ON THE DAN RIVER – Roanoke River Basin Association is a 69 year old non-profit steward of the entire Roanoke system including the Dan River, the site of the recent coal ash release.

From the initial reports of this catastrophe the following are apparent:

1. Neither best practices and planning nor strict regulations can protect the public interest from spills, leaks, or releases of hazardous chemicals, uranium tailings, or similar detrimental materials.

2. Given the nature of material storage and the lack of sufficient funding for oversight, frequently these mishaps are underway days, and sometimes years, before anyone becomes aware.

3. Not only are public water supplies threatened by these mishaps, but so are tourism, fishing, and the water-related recreational efforts by Dan River Basin Association, Roanoke River Basin Association and other groups.

Thus, Roanoke River Basin Association fully supports Dan River Basin Association in its call for Duke Energy to “immediately and safely close out its coal and ash ponds.”

Kerr Lake Park Watch has been in touch with a number of state agencies in VA and NC as well as the Corps of Engineers to get a read on the (coal ash spill) #coalashspill impact on Kerr Lake, but at this time, there is still no clear indication as to what impacts, contamination or, at the very least, inconveniences Kerr Lake and its people may incur. 

Environmental groups are running rampant in blogs on the Internet about seeking legislation and rule changes to eliminate coal ash holding ponds or lagoons, but none to be found are engaging this particular Duke Power spillage from the standpoint of what can be expected downstream.

Waterkeeper Alliance – NYC posted this video showing the coal ash in the Dan River.

THE NC DENR staff created a web page where they will publicize the water sampling results as well as the most recent information about the coal ash spill. You can find the page at the department’s website at .

As information becomes available about the impact of the coal ash on Kerr Lake, KLPW will let our members and followers know on this block.  You can check for bulletins and quick updates on our Facebook page:

Posted in: KLPW - Environmental, KLPW - MAIN NEWS, KLPW - WATER RELATED

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FROM NEWS & WIRE REPORTS – Duke Energy admitted Monday that 82,000 tons of coal ash and up to 27 million gallons of water were released from a pond at a closed plant at Eden into the Dan River.  The concern by Kerr Lake Park Watch is that the Dan River is one of the main water sources for the John H. Kerr Reservoir.

                        Photo of Dan River 1 day after spill from Fox 8 WGHP TV – High Point, NC

Duke said a storm-water pipe under the unlined ash pond broke Sunday afternoon. Water and ash from the 27-acre pond drained into the pipe.

“We’ve had some temporary solutions that have intermittently worked at times during the day, but we are still working on a short-term solution and the long-term repair,” spokeswoman Erin Culbert said late Monday.

The pond has a liquid capacity of 155 million gallons when full, according to a recent inspection report, but was at a lower level because the Dan River power plant’s coal-fired units were retired in 2012. It’s not known how much ash was in the basin, but Culbert said most of it appears to still be in the pond.

Duke said it notified local emergency managers and the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, which last year sued Duke over its ash handling, on Sunday afternoon. The first public notice of the spill came from Duke at 4:03 p.m. Monday. 

“It’s apparent once again that the government’s toxic waste management leaves a lot to be desired, particularly when monitoring the big money,” said Frank Timberlake, Lead Public Affairs for Kerr Lake Park Watch.  “If there is no impact to Kerr Lake, then we’re all going to be lucky, but we are going to want the opinions of the US Army Corps of Engineers and the Roanoke River Basin Association.  If there is a silver lining, there is time before camping and fishing season.  It just seems to me that whether in Virginia or North Carolina big money seems to be doing its damnedest to give us two-tailed, four-eyed fish that glow in the dark in Kerr Lake.”

KLPW is in the process of communicating with the Roanoke River Basin Association and the US Army Corps of Engineers to get their assessment of the leak and how it may impact Kerr Lake.

Read more here:

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