For a related Water Central News Grouper post, please see Coal Ash Storage Regulation Published by U.S. EPA in Federal Register on Apr. 17, 2015; Dominion to Close Ash Ponds at Four Virginia Power Stations Within Three Years, posted 4/22/15.
In 2015-16, considerable debate and controversy resulted from Dominion Virginia Power’s plans for handling coal ash and wastewater as part of a mandated closing of coal-ash ponds at several electric-power stations. The closure plans involved 11 ash-storage ponds at Dominion’s Possum Point, Bremo Bluff, the Chesterfield Power Station in Chesterfield County, and the Chesapeake Energy Center in the City of Chesapeake. According to the Virginia Regulatory Town Hall notice for a November 18, 2015, Va. Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) public meeting on Dominion’s closure plans (online at http://townhall.virginia.gov/L/ViewMeeting.cfm?MeetingID=23654), the closure of the coal ash ponds is “pursuant to a 2015 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) final Rule that regulates the disposal of coal-combustion residuals.” EPA information on the coal-ash regulation, which was published in the Federal Register on April 17, 2015, is available online at http://www2.epa.gov/coalash/coal-ash-rule. On the day that the regulation was published, Dominion announced that it would comply with the new regulation by closing—within three years—coal-ash ponds at the four Virginia electric-power stations.
Dominion’s application for permits to discharge coal-ash pond water from the Possum Point Power Station into Quantico Creek in Prince William County, and from the Bremo Bluff Power Station into the James River in Fluvanna County, was approved by the Virginia State Water Control Board (SWCB) on January 14, 2016. The proposed action had generated a large number of public comments, and a number of opposing citizens or groups were present at the Jan. 14 SWCB meeting. On February 1, 2016, the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) announced that, acting on behalf of the Potomac Riverkeeper Network, it would challenge in Richmond Circuit Court the SWCB decision on Quantico Creek. On February 10, 2016, the Prince William County Board of Supervisors voted to join the legal challenge to the planned discharge into Quantico Creek, and in mid-February Maryland Gov. Lawrence Hogan notified Virginia that Maryland also intends to appeal the permit for discharge into Quantico Creek. Also on February 10, the James River Association announced that it intended to challenge the agency decision in court over the planned discharge into the James River. On March 8, Prince William County announced a settlement with Dominion, but the Southern Environmental Law Center, on behalf of Potomac RiverKeeper, and Maryland Secretary for the Environment Ben Grumbles both said that they intend at this point to continue litigation over the Possum Point Station permit. On March 9, Dominion and the James River Association announced a settlement over the permit for wastewater discharge into the James from the Bremo Bluff Station. Both settlements included pledges by Dominion to treat the wastewater from the coal ash lagoons to a higher degree than is required by the Virginia permits approved in January 2016.
For more information from the DEQ on the permit process for Dominion’s closure plans, contact the following Va. DEQ staff members:
For water permitting – Susan Mackert, 13901 Crown Court, Woodbridge, VA 22193, phone: (703) 583-3853, e-mail: email@example.com;
For solid waste permitting – Justin Williams, P.O. Box 1105, Richmond, Virginia 23218, phone: (804) 698-4185, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meanwhile, Appalachian Power Company (APCO, a subsidiary of American Electric Power, or AEP) was under the same EPA mandate regarding ash-storage ponds at its facilities. According to the Virginia Regulatory Town Hall notice (online at http://townhall.virginia.gov/L/ViewMeeting.cfm?MeetingID=24385) for an April 20, 2016, DEQ public meeting on APCO’s Virginia Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (VPDES) permit re-issuance application for the Clinch River Plant in Russell County, the “proposed permit also will address wastewater discharges that result from the closure of coal ash management ponds. The closure of these ponds was necessitated by the recent conversion of the plant to use natural gas as a fuel, and by final coal ash regulations that were approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2015. The proposed permit covers the removal of treated water from the ponds to ensure that the water quality and aquatic resources of the river are protected.”
Following are ongoing lists of news item headlines (hyperlinked) regarding developments with APCO’s plans; followed by items regarding developments regarding Dominion’s plans; items are listed from newest to oldest. All hyperlinks were function at the time they were added to this post, but they may not be functional at later dates.
APCO-related new items (list started 4/12/16)
Public expresses concerns at [April 20, 2016] DEQ meeting on coal ash water removal into Clinch River, Bristol Herald Courier, 4/21/16.
Virginia DEQ to address public concerns at [April 20, 2016] meeting on coal ash removal from Clinch River plant, Bristol Herald Courier, 4/16/16.
Public meeting scheduled on removal of coal ash wastewater from Clinch River power plant, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality News Release, 4/12/16.
DOMINION-related news items (list started 11/24/15)
Once in Four Lifetimes, Bacon’s Rebellion, 4/19/16. [This article includes details on the permitting process and assumptions used by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality when assessing proposed permits for discharges of wastewater from coal-ash storage ponds.]
Dominion begins releasing coal ash wastewater into James River, WTVR TV-Richmond, 4/27/16; Protesters hold funeral for the James River, Newsplex, 4/27/16; Dominion Virginia Power begins discharging treated coal ash water into James River, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 4/27/16; and Treated Coal Ash Water Flows Today, Bacon’s Rebellion, 4/27/16 [all regarding the April 27, 2016, start of discharging coal-ash wastewater into the James River from Dominion’s Bremo Power Station in Fluvanna County].
Coal Ash Mishmash, Bacon’s Rebellion, 4/7/16. [This article includes a map showing locations of Dominion Virginia Power’s coal-ash storage facilities. Excerpt: “Dominion Virginia Power has settled disagreements with two foes over its plans to discharge coal ash wastewater from its Possum Point and Bremo power stations into Virginia’s rivers and streams, but the battle over coal ash disposal isn’t going away. Not only are the state of Maryland and the Potomac Riverkeeper Network appealing the wastewater-discharge permit for Possum Point, but Dominion still must acquire solid-waste permits for both plants. Also, within the next year or so, Dominion will file permit applications for its legacy coal ash ponds at Chesterfield Power Station, while Appalachian Power Co. plans to close and cap an ash pond at its Clinch River Power Station. Determined to hold the power companies to the strictest standards possible, environmentalists have vowed to scrutinize each permit.”]
Chesterfield Power Station expected to burn coal for the foreseeable future, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 3/26/16.
DEQ host reconvened meeting about coal ash permits in Chesterfield, [Virginia Commonwealth University] Commonwealth Times, 3/22/16.
Editorial: It’s heartening that Dominion has reached deal with environmentalists over coal ash, [Newport News] Daily Press, 3/22/16. [Like all editorials, this one has a particular point of view, but it provides a good, short introduction to the Dominion coal ash situation and recent events, as of mid-March 2016.]
After months of debate, board approves controversial landfill, Chesterfield Observer, 3/16/16 [Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors vote in March 2016 to approve landfill proposed by Dominion for coal ash at the Chesterfield Power Station].
Activists are teed off at Dominion’s gift to environmental official, Capital News Service, as published by WRIC TV Richmond, 3/23/16; Environmental official received gifts from Dominion, Capital News Service, as published by WRIC TV Richmond, 3/15/16; Chief of Virginia DEQ Attended Master’s Tournament on Dominion’s Dime, Style Weekly [Richmond], 3/15/16 [regarding payment of $2300 by Dominion Virginia Power for David Paylor to attend the tournament in Augusta, Ga., in April 2013].
Has Dominion’s Political Power Clouded The Fight Over Coal Ash?, WAMU Radio Washington, D.C., 3/14/16 – long article plus a 6 min./56 sec audio focusing particularly on perceptions of Dominion Virginia Power’s political influence in Virginia and on the role of Virginia Department of Environmental Quality in the permits for Dominion at the Possum Point and Bremo Bluff stations. See also follow-up audio, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality on Coal Ash Permit Process, 3/22/16, 5 min./34 sec.
Riverkeepers, Dominion Spar Over Year-Old Release of Coal Ash Water, Bacon’s Rebellion, 3/25/16; Dumfries calls for coal ash probe, Inside NoVa, 3/23/16; and Virginia town asks EPA to investigate coal-ash lagoon draining, Bay Journal, 3/11/16. [The Prince William County, Va., Town of Dumfries Council voted in early March to ask the Environmental Protection Agency to conduct a criminal investigation into whether the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and Dominion Virginia Power broke the law in allowing discharge of about 30 million gallons of wastewater into Quantico Creek in 2015 from the Possum Point Station, which is located near Dumfries.]
Outcry Prompts Dominion to Make Coal Ash Wastewater Cleaner, InsideClimate News, 3/10/16.
DEQ statement on settlement of lawsuits over coal ash discharge permits, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality News Release, 3/10/16 [brief statement regarding both settlements announced on March 8 and March 9].
Virginia approves Dominion’s controversial coal ash landfill, Waste Dive, 3/17/16.
Possum Point Pact Reached, Prince William Times, 3/17/16.
Dominion Alters Plan to Discharge Coal Ash Water, Fluvanna Review, 3/15/16.
Dominion, James River Association agree to wastewater discharge plan, NBC12 Richmond, 3/9/16; Two groups settle appeals of Dominion’s coal-ash lagoon discharges, Bay Journal, 3/9/16; Dominion, James River Association Reach Understanding on Coal Ash, Bacon’s Rebellion, 3/9/16; Dominion and James River Association settle on plan for discharging treated coal ash wastewater, Virginia Business, 3/9/16 [on the settlement announced 3/9/16, between Dominion and the James River Association of the latter group’s challenge to the permit for discharging wastewater into the James River from the Bremo Bluff station].
Dominion Still Facing Opposition on Possum Point Coal Ash Plan, Bacon’s Rebellion, 3/10/16.
Md.’s environment secretary: Fight against Dominion’s coal-ash plan will continue, Washington Post, 3/9/16; Prince William supervisors settle with Dominion over coal-ash ponds, Inside NoVa, 3/8/16; Dominion [and] Prince William reach deal over Possum Point, Potomac Local, 3/8/16 [on the settlement announced 3/9/16 between Dominion and the Prince William County Board of Supervisors over the latter’s challenge to the permit for discharging wastewater into the Quantico Creek from the Possum Point station].
Angry over coal-ash water release, student activists occupy lobby of Va. regulator, Washington Post, 3/7/16
Governor McAuliffe supports Dominion’s wastewater plans, Style Weekly, 3/8/16
Water removal at Dominion coal ash ponds set to begin next month, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 3/8/16
17 coal ash protesters cited in DEQ lobby sit-in, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 3/7/16
Dominion coal ash wastewater debate centers on treatment, Associated Press, as published by Richmond Times-Dispatch, 3/4/16.
As board weighs coal ash permit, citizens fight back, Chesterfield Observer, 3/2/16 [regarding coal ash at Chesterfield Power Station on the James River].
Q&A: What You Need to Know About Dominion’s Wastewater Plans for the James River, Style Weekly, 3/1/16.
Drinkable Water for Humans—or Fish?, Bacon’s Rebellion, 3/1/16 [an analysis of arguments made by parties appealing the SWCB’s approval of permits for Dominion to discharge treated water from the coal ash ponds into Quantico Creek and the James River].
River protection group challenges coal ash water discharge, Associated Press, as published by WTOP-Radio Washington, 2/27/16; and Group Challenging Decision to Allow Coal Waste in Va. Rivers, WVIR-TV Charlottesville, 2/26/16.
Virginia allows Dominion to exceed toxic limits for James River dumping, WWBT-TV Richmond, 2/25/16.
Dominion concedes, won’t import out-of-town coal ash, Chesterfield Observer, 2/24/16 [regarding application by Dominion to build a coal-ash landfill at its Chesterfield Power Station].
Maryland seeks review of Virginia decision on pollutants that could affect Potomac, Legal Newsline, 2/18/16. Maryland challenges Dominion’s coal ash water disposal plan in Virginia, UtilityDive, 2/17/16.
Local group taps renowned professor in coal ash fight, Chesterfield Observer, 2/17/16. [Dr. Marc Edwards, the Virginia Tech professor whose work helped reveal lead in drinking water in Flint, Michigan, will help a Chesterfield Couny, Va., environmental group Hands Across the Lake assess lead levels in water collected from private property near Dominion Virginia Power’s Dutch Gap power plant.]
Oyster farmers hope to stop Dominion’s coal ash plan, WUSA-TV Washington, 2/17/16.
Maryland challenges Virginia on coal ash pond draining, Bay Journal, 2/16/16.
Maryland to fight Dominion plan to release coal-ash water into Va. creek, Washington Post, 2/15/16.
How Clean Is Clean Enough?, Bacon’s Rebellion, 2/12/16.
James River Association challenging Dominion Virginia Power coal ash permit, Associated Press, as published by Charlottesville Daily Progress, 2/11/16.
Environmental Group [James River Association] Challenges Discharge into James, Fluvanna Review, 2/11/16.
Battle rages on over treated coal plant water in waterways, WTOP Radio-Washington, 2/11/16.
Couple living near Bremo power plant speaks out about ash ponds, Newsplex, 2/11/16.
Permitted release of coal ash surface water continues at Possum Point, Potomac Local, 2/10/16.
Groups appeal Virginia coal ash pond draining, Bay Journal, 2/10/16 [Prince William County and the James River Association].
Report: Dominion dumped 33.7 million gallons of untreated coal ash water in Quantico Creek, Utility Dive, 2/10/16
Fluvanna Board of Supervisors host community meeting [on 2/10/16] about ash ponds [at Bremo Bluff], Newsplex, 2/11/16.
James River Association challenging Dominion Virginia Power coal ash permit, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 2/10/16.
Prince William to sue state over coal-ash permit, Inside NoVa, 2/10/16 [the Prince William County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously on Feb. 9 to appeal the SWCB decision].
Dominion released millions of gallons of coal-ash water, Inside NoVa, 2/8/16 [Virginia Dominion Power released 33.7 million gallons of untreated coal-ash water into Quantico Creek in spring 2015].
Community Meeting [on Feb. 6, 2016, in Fluvanna County, Va.] on Bremo Coal Ash Pond Dewatering Project, Newsplex, 2/5/16.
Dominion Prepares to Shut Down Coal Ash Ponds, Newsplex, 2/2/16.
Dominion under fire for coal ash disposal in county, state, Chesterfield Observer, 2/3/16.
Dominion coal ash plan to be challenged in court, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 2/2/16.
Court fight looms over Dominion plan to flush coal ash water, Inside NoVa, 2/1/16.
River-protection group legally challenging wastewater vote, Associated Press, as published by WTOP-Radio-Washington, 2/1/16.
Possum Point Power Station: [Prince William County, Va.] Board budgets for appeal, Prince William Times, 1/29/16.
Prince William hiring lawyer to fight Dominion coal-ash plan, Inside NoVa, 1/21/16 [regarding plan to discharge coal-ash pond water from Possum Point Station into Quantico Creek].
“Months not weeks” before Dominion drains coal ash ponds, and lawsuits likely, Bay Journal, 1/21/16 [“environmental groups and agencies that opposed the two permits granted by the State Water Control Board are planning to appeal within 30 days”].
Groups Opposing Decision Allowing Dominion to Dump Coal Ash, WVIR TV Charlottesville, 1/15/16.
State Board Gives Dominion OK to Drain Coal Ash Ponds into James [and] Potomac Rivers, Capital News Service, as published by Williamsburg Yorktown Daily, 1/17/16.
Va. board OKs permits for dewatering Va. Power’s coal ash ponds, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 1/14/16.
Despite Protests State OKs Drainage of Coal Ash Ponds, Woodbridge Patch, 1/15/16.
Toxic water to be treated [and] released into Potomac River, Potomac Local, 1/14/16.
Water Board Votes to Allow Release into James River, Fluvanna Review, 1/14/16.
Breaking: Dominion’s permit to drain coal ash ponds into local waters approved, Bay Journal, 1/14/16.
Dominion wants to drain coal ash ponds into local waterways, Bay Journal, 1/11/16.
Battle over Dominion coal-ash ponds heads to state water board this week, Washington Post, 1/10/16.
Swimmers, river advocates concerned over Dominion’s proposed dumping permit in James, WTVR TV, Richmond, 1/9/16.
Concern raised over Dominion’s proposal to release treated toxic coal ash in Quantico Creek, Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star, 12/13/15.
Dominion wants to drain coal ash ponds into local waterways, Bay Journal, 12/11/15.
Toxic chemicals from power plant leak into Quantico Creek, Inside NoVa, 12/10/15.
Dominion seeks Virginia OK to dump water from coal ash sites, Associated Press, as published by Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star, 12/9/15.
Residents on Potomac River Coal Ash Plan: We weren’t notified, Potomac Local, 12/8/15.
River advocates wary of plan to dump water from coal ash ponds in James, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 12/7/15.
Palmyra Hosting Public Hearing on James River Coal Ash Dumping, WVIR TV-Charlottesville, 12/1/15.
Treat and release: What Dominion wants to do with toxic water at Possum Point, Potomac Local, 11/29/15.
Lawmakers: Give the public more time to study coal-ash pond plan, Washington Post, 11/24/15.