Skip to main content
ARS Home » Southeast Area » Oxford, Mississippi » National Sedimentation Laboratory » Watershed Physical Processes Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #394565

Research Project: Computational Tools and a Decision Support System for Management of Sediment and Water Quality in Agricultural Watersheds

Location: Watershed Physical Processes Research

Title: Numerical simulation of fate and transport of chemical contaminants in Dan River due to coal ash spill accident

item CHAO, XIAOBO - University Of Mississippi
item ZHANG, YAOXIN - University Of Mississippi
item AL-HAMDAN, MOHAMMAD - University Of Mississippi

Submitted to: Mississippi Water Resources Research Conference Proceedings
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/25/2022
Publication Date: 4/12/2022
Citation: Chao, X., Zhang, Y., Al-Hamdan, M. 2022. Numerical simulation of fate and transport of chemical contaminants in Dan River due to coal ash spill accident. Mississippi Water Resources Research Conference Proceedings. 2022.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Large quantities of stored coal ash nationwide pose a serious threat to the environment and wildlife when accidentally released into surface water systems. On February 2, 2014, the failure of a storm water pipe under the primary coal ash pond of the Dan River Steam Station owned by the Duke Energy released about 39,000 tons of coal ash and 27 million gallons of pond water into the Dan River near Eden, N.C., about 130 miles upstream of the Kerr Reservoir. Together with the coal ash, a number of contaminants attached to the particles and dissolved in the pond water were also released into Dan River. Numerical model is an effective tool to simulate the transport processes of coal ash and associated chemical contaminants in river flow. In this case, the entire study reach of the river-reservoir system extends from the USGS Wentworth gauge on Dan River, about 22 km upstream of the spill location to the Kerr Dam, about 182 km downstream of the spill location. For such a long river-reservoir system, the CCHE1D model developed by National Center for Computational Hydroscience and Engineering at the University of Mississippi was applied to simulate the fate and transport of contaminants due to the Dan River coal ash spill accident. The processes of advection, diffusion, sedimentation, and adsorption/desorption of contaminants were considered in the model. Several chemical contaminants, including arsenic (As), mercury (Hg), and selenium (Se) were simulated, and their concentration distributions in water column and bed sediment were obtained. The simulated results were validated using the measured data obtained from EPA. Those results provide useful information for water environment evaluation and water resource management.