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Governor Terry McAuliffe assured Danville city officials on Tuesday that the state will monitor remediation efforts and pursue compensation from Duke Energy as a result of the coal ash spill into the Dan River from the company's plant in Eden, N.C.
McAuliffe made his comments following a tour of the city's water treatment plant.
"I wanted to come to Danville to get a firsthand look," McAuliffe said. "We want to make sure we are doing everything we can. We will do anything and all for remediation and compensation."
The governor said he is pleased the coal ash spill has not affected the city's drinking water. He applauded the efforts of water treatment plant operators in providing safe drinking water since the spill.
"I'm going to have a little glass of water myself," McAuliffe said.
McAuliffe was joined on the tour by David Paylor, director of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. Paylor said the state is taking a long-term look at the impact of the spill, testing fish and other marine life.
He said a full environmental assessment might not be known for years. Testing on fish, for example, might not reflect certain contaminants for years to come.
"In the long term, we have to evaluate what the damage to the river was, what the damage to recreation was, the damage to fisheries," Paylor said. "I don't expect them to be lasting forever. Much of the coal ash will eventually be buried with other sedimentation."
McAuliffe declined to speculate on the ultimate costs.
"It's going to take time," McAuliffe said. "I think the DEQ is going to be working on this two, three, four years. We don't know at this point."
However, McAuliffe added, "I have assurances from Duke Energy that they're going to pay for everything. I take them at their word. No reason not to."