Federal Investigation Follows North Carolina Coal Ash Spill

Federal authorities have launched a criminal investigation into a massive coal ash spill into a North Carolina River.

The state Department of Environment and Natural Resources and Duke Energy have been ordered by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Raleigh to turn over all relevant emails, memos and reports from 2010 through the Feb. 2 spill.

More than 80,000 tons of coal ash and 27 million gallons of contaminated water spewed into the Dan River, according to the Associated Press — enough to fill 73 Olympic-sized pools. It was the third largest coal ash spill in U.S. history.

Prosecutors ordered the state environmental agency's chief lawyer to appear next month before a grand jury.

Image: Coal ash swirls on the surface of the Dan River
Coal ash swirls on the surface of the Dan River as state and federal environmental officials continued their investigations of a spill of coal ash into the river in Danville, Va., Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014. Duke Energy estimates that up to 82,000 tons of ash has been released from a break in a 48-inch storm water pipe at the Dan River Power Plant in Eden N.C. on Sunday. Gerry Broome / AP
— Alessandra Malito