RALEIGH – To restore fish and wildlife resources affected by the Feb. 2, 2014, Dan River coal ash spill, the natural resource trustees have initiated the natural resource damage assessment and restoration (NRDAR) process cooperatively with Duke Energy, the party responsible for the spill.
“This is another important step in our efforts to hold Duke Energy accountable for their ash spill and to return the Dan River, as closely as possible, to the condition it was in before the ash spill,” said John Skvarla, secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
The trustees — the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and Virginia Department of Environmental Quality — have also been an integral part of the response and cleanup of the Dan River coal ash spill
As technical support to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and others, we have helped evaluate and reduce risks to the environment. The trustees are now continuing their work by conducting a NRDAR to evaluate the impact of the spill on Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration Process for the Dan River Coal Ash Spill natural resources and to ultimately restore the injured resources.
The Dan River Watershed
The Dan River flows through the Piedmont of North Carolina and Virginia. The river snakes through Eden, N.C. (the site of the spill), Danville, Va.; and South Boston, Va. The river eventually joins the impounded section of the Roanoke River at Buggs Island Lake (John H. Kerr Reservoir). The Dan River basin is a multiple-use recreation area that provides fishing, boating and wildlife viewing opportunities.
The river also provides a vital habitat area for fish and wildlife, including the endangered Roanoke logperch (Percina rex) and the James spinymussel (Pleurobema collina). Another freshwater mussel species, the green floater (Lasmigona subviridis), can also be found in the river and is underreview by the Service to determine if the species warrants protection under the federal Endangered Species Act.
The Dan River Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration
Fish, wildlife, and other natural resources can be injured when hazardous substances enter the environment. Those natural resources are managed for the public’s benefit. As such, the trustees are working on the public’s behalf to determine the extent of the coal ash spill’s injury to the Dan River’s natural resources and the public’s use of those resources. Based on the damage assessment, the trustees will work with Duke Energy to restore or replace natural resources and/or seek compensation from Duke Energy to carry out restoration activities. A benefit of the NRDAR program is that natural resources are restored at no cost to the taxpayers.
By working cooperatively with Duke Energy on the NRDAR, the trustees hope to expedite restoration efficiently and effectively. The trustees will focus on restoration early in the process while also integrating natural resource injury assessments with ongoing remedial assessment and cleanup work.
The NRDAR process provides opportunities for public engagement during restoration planning. The trustees will develop a proposed restoration plan that will be made available to the public for their review and comment. Our ultimate goal is to restore the Dan River’s natural resources and the public’s enjoyment of them. To that end, public participation will be an essential component moving forward with natural resource damage assessment and restoration.
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