Governor Terry McAuliffe said Tuesday in Danville he is pleased the city's drinking water has not been affected as a result of the coal ash spill into the Dan River from Duke Energy's shuttered coal-fired steam station located about 20 miles upstream from Danville.
"I'm going to have a little glass of water myself," McAuliffe said following a tour of the water treatment plant.
A pipe under the main coal ash pond at Duke’s Dan River Steam Station broke on Feb. 2 and spewed up to 39,000 tons of coal ash into the river.
He applauded the efforts of water treatment plant operators in providing safe drinking water since the spill.
"I wanted to come to Danville to get a firsthand look," said McAuliffe when talking about what the city is doing to make sure the water meets quality standards.
He assured city officials that the state will monitor environmental remediation efforts and pursue compensation from Duke Energy.
"We will do anything and all for remediation and compensation," 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."
McAuliffe said he has been in frequent communication with the N.C. Governor Pat McCrory and Duke Energy CEO Lynn Good.
"I have assurances from Duke Energy that they're going to pay for everything. I take them at their word. No reason not to."