The Dan River flows 214 miles (344 km) in the U.S. states of North Carolina and Virginia. It rises in Patrick County, Virginia, and crosses the state border into Stokes County, North Carolina. It then flows into Rockingham County. From there it goes back into Virginia. It reenters North Carolina near the border between Caswell County and Rockingham County. It flows into northern Caswell County and then back into southern Virginia and finally into Kerr Reservoir on the Roanoke River.
The name of the river was first recorded by William Byrd II in 1728, during an expedition to survey the Virginia border, though Byrd did not explain the reason for the name. A variant name is "South Branch Roanoke River".
Coal ash spill
In 2014, tens of thousands of tons of coal ash and 27 million gallons (100,000 cubic meters) of contaminated water spilled into the Dan River near Eden, NC from a closed North Carolina coal-fired power plant that is owned by Duke Energy. It is currently the third worst coal ash spill ever to happen in the United States. A 48-inch (120 cm) pipe spilled arsenic and other heavy metals into the river for a week, but was successfully plugged by Duke. The federal government plans to investigate, and people along the river have been warned to stay away from the water. Fish have yet to be tested, but health officials say not to eat them. Cities in Virginia which use the river say that with standard methods of treatment, the water is safe to drink. Ash is found on the bottom of the river for 70 miles (110 km) and is as much as 5 feet (150 cm) deep in places. Late in February, North Carolina regulators cited Duke for the violations at the plant on the river. On March 3, in addition to citing Duke for similar problems elsewhere in the state, North Carolina's Department of Environment and Natural Resources called the spill on the Dan River an "environmental disaster." On April 18, Duke said three North Carolina State University researchers had determined pollutants were down significantly and that the water was safe for farm uses, as long as recent precipitation had not disturbed sediments. At the same time, Duke was attempting to remove some of the ash in the river. As of November, Duke said it had removed 3,000 tons of ash.
A study by Wake Forest University researcher Dennis Lemly completed in November estimated the cost of cleanup at $300 million. Another study by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Duke, and environmental agencies in both states was to be released in 2015. Also in November, the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources reported that insects in the water east of the plant "appear to be thriving".
On January 27, 2015 at a press conference, Eden officials announced, "Our rivers are thriving."
- "The National Map". U.S. Geological Survey. Retrieved Feb 14, 2011.
- "Early Danville History". Danville Historical Society. Retrieved 10 September 2015.
- U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Dan River
- "Tons of coal ash spill into North Carolina river". Los Angeles Times. 2014-02-05. Retrieved 2014-02-05.
- "A Tale of Two Spills". WCHL (AM). 2014-02-16. Retrieved 2014-02-16.
- Almasy, Steve; Black, Nelli (February 25, 2014). "State warns residents near coal ash spill to avoid fish, contact with river water". CNN. Retrieved February 28, 2014.
- Zucchino, David (March 3, 2014). "Duke Energy receives 5 more citations weeks after coal ash spill". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 6, 2014.
- Dalesio, Emery (April 18, 2014). "NC State study: Dan River water safe for farm use". News & Observer. Associated Press. Retrieved April 19, 2014.
- Jarvis, Craig (November 26, 2014). "Dan River coal ash spill damage could top $300 million". News & Observer.
- Battaglia, Danielle (January 27, 2015). "Eden officials on coal ash spill: 'Our rivers are thriving'". News & Record. Retrieved January 27, 2015.
- Metcalfe, Trevor (February 6, 2015). "Va. county to sue Duke Energy over coal ash". Danville Register & Bee.
- Map of the Dan River Watershed
- Dan River Basin Association (DRBA): DRBA preserves and promotes the natural and cultural resources of the Dan River Basin through stewardship, recreation and education. DRBA is a nonprofit organization serving as advocates and protectors of the Dan River.