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After more than 60 years of reliable service to Duke Energy customers in Rockingham County and across the Carolinas, the Dan River Steam Station is no more.
An early-morning implosion on Sunday brought down the plant's power house and three boilers. A subsequent implosion on Monday brought down the remaining precipitator. The two implosions were the culmination of nearly two years of preparation and mechanical demolition at the site.
The plant's three boilers were used to burn coal to make steam, which in turn powered turbines to generate energy for customers across the Carolinas region. After the coal was combusted, the electrostatic precipitator captured small dust and ash particles left over from that process.
The 276-megawatt (MW) Dan River Steam Station began service in 1949 and was considered state-of-the-art technology in its day. It was retired in 2012, the same year that a new 620-MW natural gas-fired combined cycle plant came into service at the site.
The plant's retirement was part of the company's efforts to enhance service to customers by replacing older, less efficient coal units with cleaner, more efficient natural gas technology.
To date, Duke Energy has retired seven of 14 coal plants in North Carolina.
During its lifespan, the Dan River Steam Station was home to hundreds of employees who lived and worked in Rockingham County. Notable traditions at the site included a plant employee softball team that competed against teams from power plants across the state, and the iconic annual Christmas tree lighting atop the plant's smokestack, visible to passersby in the community.
Progress closing ash basins
In addition to demolishing the coal plant, work continues to excavate coal ash and safely close ash basins at the Dan River site. Coal ash from seven decades of plant operations is currently stored in two ash basins and a dry ash storage area on site.
Crews have moved more than 750,000 tons of coal ash by rail during the last year from the Dan River site to the Maplewood Landfill, a fully-lined storage facility in Amelia County, Va.
About half of the approximately 3 million tons of coal ash at the Dan River Steam Station will be taken to this landfill in central Virginia. Remaining ash will be stored dry in a new fully lined landfill under construction on plant property.
Ash storage areas at the site are expected to be fully excavated by August 2019 as part of a comprehensive initiative to safely close all ash basins across Duke Energy's six-state service area.