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The toxic spill that left a legacy of change

A decade ago, thousands of tons of toxic coal ash poured into the Dan River. The spill—the third largest of its kind in US history—was a devastating environmental disaster. But today, the event is perhaps best known for its legacy of legislation, as environmental activists and communities across North Carolina turned this local disaster into a national rallying cry for change.


  • Celeste Gracia, Environmental Reporter at WUNC-North Carolina Public Radio
  • Brian Williams, Program Manager at the Dan River Basin Association
  • Tiffany Hayworth, Executive Director at the Dan River Basin Association
  • Frank Holloman, Senior Attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center
  • Amy Adams, former Campaign Coordinator at Appalachian Voices
  • Bill Norton, Spokesperson at Duke Energy


Celeste Gracia covers the environment for WUNC. She has been at the station since September 2019 and started off as morning producer.
Jerad Walker is WUNC’s editor of narrative audio and podcasts. He joined the station in 2022 after nearly a decade at Oregon Public Broadcasting.
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