Tuesday 26 September 2017

Two groups that had challenged Dominion Virginia Power’s plans to drain coal ash lagoons into Chesapeake Bay tributaries announced Wednesday that they have withdrawn their legal appeals after the utility pledged to upgrade its treatment of the wastewater at two of its plants. But the state of Maryland and one environmental group that also had sued vowed to press their objections in court – at least for now.

Though not considered a hazardous waste, coal ash can contain toxic chemicals and metals such as arsenic, lead and mercury, which pose health risks for people, as well as fish and wildlife.

The James River Association, meanwhile, also announced that it would drop its appeal of a similar permit allowing Dominion to drain impoundments at its Bremo power plant into the James River.

But the Southern Environmental Law Center, which represents the James River group, said Wednesday that it will continue to appeal Dominion’s discharge permit for Possum Point on behalf of another client, the Potomac Riverkeeper Network


(Published in Bay Journal, March 9, 2016)

Maryland will keep fighting Dominion Virginia Power’s plan to release coal-ash water into a Potomac River tributary, despite modifications that resulted in Prince William County dropping its objections.

“At this point, we are continuing our review of the contested permit,” Ben Grumbles, Maryland’s secretary of the environment, said in a statement Wednesday. He said the state was also looking “for opportunities with Virginia to ensure wastewater and waste pits at Possum Point are managed for effective, long-term protection of the Potomac.”

In an agreement that was announced Tuesday evening, Dominion promised to test the coal-ash water it treats at its Possum Point plant in Prince William on an hourly basis — instead of the three times a week currently required by its permit — before it releases the water into the creek.

Dean Naujoks, an environmentalist with the Potomac Riverkeeper Network, said his group also intends to keep fighting the Possum Point plan.


(Published in The Washington Post, March 9, 2016)

DEQ issues draft permit for coal ash water drainage in Chesterfield

By JOHN RAMSEY 5755f0fe875fa.image

The state Department of Environmental Quality on Monday released the first draft of a permit that will regulate how coal ash ponds are drained at the Chesterfield Power Station.

The permit, one of four Dominion Virginia Power needs to comply with federal rules requiring the closure of coal ash ponds, will allow the company to drain up to 5 million gallons of treated ash pond water daily into the James River.

“We’re very pleased to see that made it in there. It sort of sets a new benchmark for permits like this that are coming out, so that’s great news,” said Jamie Brunkow, the association’s Lower James Riverkeeper. “I think we want to build on that. ... We’re going to be digging into that over the next few weeks to provide substantive comments.”


(Published June 6, 2016, Richmond Times-Dispatch)