The Coal Ash Decision

What You Can Do

Dan and Patty Marrow have worked tirelessly to have Dominion Energy do the right thing. They need our help. Dan erected this sign on Possum Point Road near his home and the Dominion Power station.

The decisions that will determine how the disposal of  Possum Point coal ash will be handled will be made by the Virginia legislature, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and the Prince William County Board of County Supervisors. You have the power to influence the decisions made by these organizations. Please join the Marrow family, PWCA and the many others who want Dominion Energy to do the right thing and dispose of this threat to our health and welfare in a way that is safe and permanent. Below are the actions that you can take that will make a difference.

ACTION:  Attend the DEQ public meeting on February 16 and show your support for the residents of PWC by asking DEQ to deny or postpone approving the permit until Dominion addresses other alternatives.

 

ACTION:  By March 10, mail DEQ your comments and concerns about Dominion’s Possum Point closure plans.

The problem with Dominion Energy’s closure plan is that Pond D does not have a liner that meets current standards, which requires a clay layer, synthetic liner, and leachate collection system to prevent groundwater contamination. Pond D has a history of leaking and leaching toxics into groundwater. Dominion’s own monitoring data shows that Pond D has contaminated groundwater with cadmium, zinc, and other metals for several decades. New groundwater monitoring data shows boron and other pollutants at the edge of Dominion’s property near homes with residential drinking wells. Furthermore, a recent study by scientists at Duke University concluded that capping waste ash in place could increase groundwater contamination by pollutants to include arsenic.

 

Today, utilities in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia are excavating, or committed to excavating, 75 million tons of coal ash. The ash will be dried and stored in modern landfills or will be recycled for use in concrete. Recycling is an important alternative to cap-in-place at Possum Point. However, Dominion is not recycling any of its wet ash at any of its sites in Virginia and has only excavated a minuscule amount of coal ash. The primary reason is that it is less costly to just bury/cap-in-place the coal ash, regardless of the harm to people and the environment.

 

There are three alternatives to cap-in-place for the coal ash stored at Possum Point:

  • Move the coal ash to a commercial, modern landfill. Duke Power of North Carolina is moving some of its coal ash to a Virginia landfill. There is a rail line running through the Possum Point power station that could be used to transport the coal ash. Dominion also has a barge facility at Possum Point that could be used.
  • Create a properly lined landfill at Possum Point. This alternative avoids transportation costs and other issues, but Dominion has said that there is not enough room. There are alternate opinions that there is adequate space.
  • Recycle the coal ash for use in concrete. Although Dominion Energy does not recycle wet coal ash, it currently recycles 700,000 tons of coal ash annually. With the proposed replacement of the country’s infrastructure, there will be a significant increase in the use of concrete. Dominion has said that its Possum Point coal ash is not suitable for recycling. However, the wet coal ash can be recycled, but is more costly than using dry coal ash. (Note: Virginia imported over 600 sea containers of coal ash from China last year for use in concrete.)

 

Virginia State Senator Scott A. Surovell, 36th District, recently sponsored three bills to be considered by the state legislature about coal ash and how impoundments are to be closed. Bill 1398 won bipartisan support on February 2, 2016, and advanced from committee to the Senate. The bill requires Dominion to:

  • Provide DEQ with more information before it approves solid waste permits that allow cap-in-place.
  • Identify sources of existing water contamination and to address corrective actions to resolve it.
  • Evaluate “clean closure” by either recycling the ash or moving it to modern, synthetically lined landfills.
  • Demonstrate the long-term safety if it chooses to cap-in-place and its ability to keep ash out of wetlands, major waterways, and other sensitive areas.
  • Identify a site for an ash-processing facility that would allow it to recycle more ash into cement and other building materials.

 

ACTION: Call, mail or email your Virginia State Senator(s) asking that they support Bill 1398, when it is debated and voted by the full Senate.

 

ACTION: Contact your member of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors and let him or her know that you support PWC requiring Dominion to get a Special Use Permit before proceeding with the burial of coal ash and also require a one year study period to collect ground water test data as well as a comprehensive study of the alternatives to cap-in-place.

 

Additional information on this important issue can be obtained at:

Prince William Times - http://www.fauquier.com/search/?l=25&sd=desc&s=start_time&f=html&t=article%2Cvideo%2Cyoutube%2Ccollection&app=editorial&q=coal+ash&nsa=eedition

 

Potomac Riverkeeper Network – potomacriverkeepernetwork.org

 

Waterkeeper Alliance – waterkeeperalliance.org

 

Earth Justice – earthjustice.org

 

Southern Environmental Law Center – southernenvironment.org

 

Dominion Energy – https://www.dom.com/corporate/our-commitments/environment/coal-ash-pond-closure-ma

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