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Virginia Dept of Environment Quality weighs in on possible coal ash in Kerr Lake

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TWC News: Virginia Dept of Environment Quality weighs in on possible coal ash in Kerr Lake
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RALEIGH- More conflicting information has surfaced following a Time Warner Cable News report on the confirmed presence of coal ash in Kerr Lake.

The Virginia Department of Environment Quality released the following statement on Friday:

Virginia DEQ did receive reports in February that small amounts of coal ash were observed where Kerr Lake begins. However, all the testing to date shows no impacts to drinking water supplies.

This statement backs up what Thomas Reeder, DENR’s Director of Water Resources told Time Warner Cable News reporter Chris Williams on Thursday which is that trace amounts of coal ash were found at Kerr Lake.

TWC News: Virginia Dept of Environment Quality weighs in on possible coal ash in Kerr Lake
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"Basically, my understanding is that U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service took sediment sampling or sampling from the river all the way along to the headwaters of Kerr Lake. Anyone that's talked to me about it, I've told them we've found trace amounts of coal ash all the way to Kerr Lake," said Reeder.

Reeder said the trace amounts were spotted back in February, shortly after the massive coal ash spill at Duke Energy's Eden Plant.

Watch the full interview with Thomas Reeder:


TWC News: Virginia Dept of Environment Quality weighs in on possible coal ash in Kerr Lake
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However, after the story aired, DENR Public Information Officer Susan Massengale emailed Time Warner Cable News contradicting Reeder's statement.

Full Email from Susan Massengale:

Just wanted to give you a clarification on Kerr Lake.

As Tom Reeder said, it is possible that some trace amount of coal ash has made its way to the lake but, as of now, no testing by the NC, EPA or Virginia agencies has confirmed the presence of coal ash in Kerr Lake.

DENR, the EPA and other agencies have received reports of grayish material that appeared to be coal ash in Kerr Lake, in flats areas, at public access areas and on the shores of the lake
see Feb. 17 news release issued by DENR. However, no testing conducted to date has confirmed the presence of coal ash in quantifiable amounts at any of these locations.

EPA is working with health departments in Virginia and North Carolina and will soon be issuing findings from water and sediment samples and some information concerning recreational activities in Kerr Lake to address health and safety questions for users of the lake.

FYI - as a general rule and for any lake, those involved with water recreation need to avoid areas that are discolored or that otherwise appear odd - such as discolorations, excess algae, fish kills, etc.. There are risks of bacterial exposure in any natural water areas and care should be taken to wash hands and rinse off in clean water after being in the lake to protect personal health.


Time Warner Cable News requested to speak again with Thomas Reeder to ask if he agreed with Massengale's statement. A DENR spokesperson said Friday is a state holiday and Reeder is unavailable.

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