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The hazardous materials unit of the Danville Fire Department responded this afternoon to a call of a substance with an unusual appearance in the Dan River. The substance was found above the dam at Union Street Bridge near the south bank.
The hazmat team collected samples. Tests determined the substance is coal ash.
“We believe this coal ash was stirred up from the bottom of the river due to the higher water flow as a result of the recent rain and snow,” Assistant Fire Chief Steve Dishman said. “This is something we expect to see from time to time with high water events.”
Barry Dunkley, director of water and wastewater treatment for Danville Utilities, said there have been no visible signs recently of coal ash entering the water treatment plant through the water intake at the river. All tests of treated water leaving the water treatment plant continue to show the water is clean and safe to drink, he said.
The city has notified the Virginia Department of Emergency Management of the incident.
“We will continue to monitor the situation,” Dishman said. “If any citizen sees something of concern like this, we ask that they contact us.”