In a powerful display of collective concern, 27 conservation and public health organizations submitted a request to Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality, asking Director David Paylor to reject Dominion Power’s closure plan for coal ash ponds at four sites in Virginia. Organizations from across the Commonwealth and several national groups said that these sites present serious ongoing pollution problems that pose a threat to the health of aquatic life and to Virginians’ enjoyment of the James and the Potomac, two of the Commonwealth’s most valued rivers. At the Chesapeake Energy Center, Dominion’s own recent sampling results revealed arsenic in groundwater at more than 128 times Virginia’s groundwater protection standard.
The letter identifies North Carolina, Tennessee and South Carolina as leaders in protecting drinking and recreational waters from the toxic waste created by power plants in those states. In North Carolina, state regulators have sued Duke Energy’s subsidiaries for groundwater contamination and unpermitted seeps at 14 coal ash sites across the state. The state has also issued fines for ongoing violations of groundwater quality standards, including a fine at the Sutton power plant for $25 million – the largest fine ever in the state for environmental damages.
As a result of citizen and state efforts in South Carolina, utilities have committed to clean up every unlined waterfront coal ash storage site across the state.
“Dominion’s proposal to cap in place will not stop heavy metals and other toxic pollutants from leaking out of the sides and bottoms of coal ash ponds right into waterbodies used to kayak, fish and swim,” said Emily Russell of Virginia Conservation Network. “There is no reason why Virginians should be asked to settle for perpetual pollution simply because it’s more cost-effective for Dominion’s bottom line.”
New coal ash rules finalized by EPA established a deadline for utilities to clean up their ash.
That rule will go into effect in October. Dominion has begun cleanup efforts at Possum Point, near Dumfries, VA, in an attempt to avoid becoming subject to the new, more stringent cleanup standards.
For questions, contacts Emily Russell at 804-424-1285.