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RICHMOND (AP) - Virginia is looking at the long-term health of the Dan River following that massive coal ash spill in North Carolina.

The director of the Dept. of Environmental Quality, David K. Paylor, said Monday the state will hold Duke Energy 'fully accountable' for any environmental damage from the spill last month.

Paylor said the monitoring of water and aquatic life in the Dan is likely to take several years. However, samples of the treated water used by Virginians 'have consistently met or exceeded all applicable federal and state standards, and there are no public health concerns with drinking water,' according to a news release issued Monday. .

The spill from the Duke Energy facility in Eden, N.C., was reported on February 2, about 20 miles from Virginia. The spill coated 70 miles of the river in a toxic gray sludge. State officials stress the there's no more coal ash being released and that removal continues.

As for marine life taken from the river, the Va. Department of Health says the spill hasn't caused officials to add to a previous advisory about mercury and PCBs (no more than two meals per month for certain fish species).
VDH FAQ on coal ash spill

Virginia's long-term efforts will include a cooperative state and federal monitoring plan to identify impacts to bottom-dwelling organisms that form the base of the food chain in the river. The study also will identify effects on fish and possible bioaccumulation of metals in fish tissue.

DEQ actions taken so far:
Compiled historical monitoring data and drafted a summary of water quality conditions on the Dan River from before the spill to enable comparison with post-spill conditions.
Collected water and sediment samples from the North Carolina line to an area west of South Boston. No violations of Virginia's water quality standards have been found, and sample collections are continuing.
Coordinated with local water treatment facilities and the Virginia Department of Health to ensure the ongoing safety of public water supplies. The drinking water quality has not been impaired and remains safe.
Collected fish samples from the river to evaluate for metal contaminants. A summary of findings is expected soon.
Coordinated with VDH on the posting of signs along the river advising limited contact with coal ash.
Reviewed records and current conditions at coal ash impoundments in Virginia.
Initiated plans for assessment of water quality, aquatic life and habitat in the river.

Tonight on 13News Now at 6, we team up with a professor from Old Dominion Univ. to test water in Lake Gaston to see the impact of the coal ash spill.

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