Lawsuit by Sierra Club in March 2015 Against Dominion Virginia Power Over Coal Ash at Chesapeake Energy Center in Chesapeake, Va.

Update 3/17/16 – For more recent information regarding coal ash at four Dominion Virginia Power facilities, please see this Water Center News Grouper post:
Closure of Coal Ash Ponds at Dominion’s Bremo Bluff, Chesapeake, Chesterfield, and Possum Point Power Stations.

Information about the Sierra Club’s March 2015 lawsuit
On March 19, 2015, the Sierra Club, represented by the Southern Environmental Law Center, filed a federal lawsuit alleging “ongoing contamination of groundwater and surrounding surface waters” from Dominion Virginia Power’s coal-fired Chesapeake Energy Center power plant in Chesapeake, Va.

Filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, located in Norfolk, the suit alleged that the plant’s disposal of coal ash (the solid material remaining after combustion of coal to generate electric power) in storage ponds between the Southern Branch of the Elizabeth River and Deep Creek (Dominion’s practice since 1953, according to the suit), have “for at least two decades” resulted in discharges to groundwater of arsenic and other heavy metals and pollutants at levels above Virginia standards, that the groundwater contaminants also reach surface waters, and that the plant’s Virginia Pollutant Elimination Discharge System (VPDES) permit does not permit such levels of discharge.

According to the WAVY-TV/Norfolk report of the lawsuit filing, Dominion stated that it stopped operation of the plant in December 2014 and is decommissioning the plant in compliance with federal and state regulations.  [Please see the 3/17/16 update above].

The plant is under a Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) groundwater corrective action plan that aims to diminish the level of groundwater contaminants over time. Information on DEQ’s groundwater-monitoring program for solid-waste facilities (including coal-ash storage) is available online at http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/LandProtectionRevitalization/SolidHazardousWasteRegulatoryPrograms/SolidWaste/GroundwaterMonitoring.aspx.

Sources: Dominion sued over Chesapeake power plant, WAVY-TV Norfolk, 3/19/15 (a PDF link to the lawsuit document filed by the SELC on March 19 was available at this site, as of 3/20/15); and Group sues Dominion over Chesapeake coal ash, Virginian-Pilot, 3/20/15.  Court rejects Dominion’s motion to dismiss coal ash lawsuit, Southern Environmental Law Center 11/9/15, online at https://www.southernenvironment.org/news-and-press/news-feed/court-rejects-dominions-motion-to-dismiss-coal-ash-lawsuit.

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