Toxic sludge coats the hand of an environmental activist from Appalachian Voices. Since Sunday, thousands of tons of poisonous coal ash have dumped into the Dan River from a North Carolina electricity plant. (Gerry Broome/AP)
March 22, 2014
DANVILLE, Va. (AP) - When a massive coal ash spill was swept down the Dan River through Danville, the toxic stew smudged this proud mill city's vision for its future.
Once a thriving hub for tobacco and textiles, civic leaders now are left to repeatedly assure residents of this city of 43,000 the water is safe to drink, forget about persuading businesses to sink roots here.
One city official says the spill Feb. 2 in North Carolina is already being used by competitors to lure business prospects away from Danville.
With the full environmental consequences of the spill years away, community leaders fear the city's efforts to redefine itself have suffered immeasurably.
The city is now looking to Duke Energy to make good on the damage it has done.