Foul waters for the Dan

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 8, 2014

Dart to the coal ash spill that has dumped tens of thousands of gallons of polluted water into the Dan River in Rockingham County. The spill apparently began Sunday when an underground storm water pipe broke at Duke’s Dan River Power Plant site, allowing coal ash in a retention pond to flow into the waterway. Like Duke’s other coal ash ponds, including those at the Buck Steam Station in Rowan County, the Dan River ash lagoon doesn’t have a protective liner that could help prevent or at least minimize leakage. Although Duke and state environmental officials say downstream water tests indicate arsenic and other contaminates haven’t reached unsafe levels, they were at the higher portion of state limits, and the Waterkeeper Alliance says independent test samples taken closer to the spill site show much higher concentrations. Even if the downstream municipal water supplies aren’t affected, the spill is harmful to aquatic life. It also underscores the risks inherent in unlined waste lagoons — especially those situated near waterways.
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Laurels to people who’ve rolled up their sleeves to answer the Red Cross’ recent plea for blood and platelet donors. Although winter storms typically only disrupt things for a few days in the Carolinas, they can put a serious dent in blood collection drives. That’s what happened with the recent storms here, forcing the cancellation of dozens of Red Cross blood drives. If you can donate, here are a couple of upcoming opportunities locally:
Feb. 14, 2:30-7 p.m., Rockwell AMVETS blood drive, 427 Link St., Rockwell; and Feb. 16, 1-5:30 p.m., Mt. Moriah Lutheran Church blood drive, 750 Mt. Moriah Church Road, China Grove.
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Laurels to a much-too-long-delayed resolution to the massive food stamp backlog that has affected applicants across the state for several months. Maybe state officials just needed a deadline with teeth. Federal officials warned that the state could lose millions in aid if the processing bottleneck wasn’t cleared up by Monday. As of late this week, it looked like officials at the Department Health and Human Services would meet the ultimatum for clearing up applications that have been pending for more than 90 days. This has been a hardship for those seeking food aid and a major headache for social service offices trying to compensate for glitches in the new NC FAST software system — a name that now sounds like a bad joke.