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Va. city downriver from coal ash spill suffers

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Photo - FILE - In a Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014 file photo, Duke Energy engineers and contractors survey the site of a coal ash spill at the Dan River Power Plant in Eden, N.C., as state and federal environmental officials continued their investigations of the spill into the river. North Carolina regulators said Friday, March 21, 2014, that they have asked a judge to withdraw a proposed settlement that would have allowed Duke Energy to resolve environmental violations by paying a $99,000 fine with no requirement that the $50 billion company clean up its pollution. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome, File)
FILE - In a Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014 file photo, Duke Energy engineers and contractors survey the site of a coal ash spill at the Dan River Power Plant in Eden, N.C., as state and federal environmental officials continued their investigations of the spill into the river. North Carolina regulators said Friday, March 21, 2014, that they have asked a judge to withdraw a proposed settlement that would have allowed Duke Energy to resolve environmental violations by paying a $99,000 fine with no requirement that the $50 billion company clean up its pollution. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome, File)
Local,Virginia

DANVILLE, Va. (AP) — When a massive coal ash spill was swept down the Dan River through Danville, the toxic stew smudged this proud mill city's vision for its future.

Once a thriving hub for tobacco and textiles, civic leaders now are left to repeatedly assure residents of this city of 43,000 the water is safe to drink, forget about persuading businesses to sink roots here.

One city official says the spill Feb. 2 in North Carolina is already being used by competitors to lure business prospects away from Danville.

With the full environmental consequences of the spill years away, community leaders fear the city's efforts to redefine itself have suffered immeasurably.

The city is now looking to Duke Energy to make good on the damage it has done.

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