We need your help! Tomorrow, July 6, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) will hold an informational briefing and public hearing to review a draft wastewater permit for Dominion’s Chesterfield Power Station on the James River which will include “dewatering” of coal ash ponds. Please come out tomorrow evening and tell DEQ that we need improvements to this proposal! Here are some of our concerns:
- The draft permit, as written, allows discharge of arsenic, cadmium, chromium, copper, lead, mercury, nickel, selenium, silver and zinc at hazardous levels for fish and aquatic wildlife. DEQ should require Dominion to pre-treat the water at levels sufficient to protect fish and aquatic wildlife before the water is released into the river.
- The draft permit allows Dominion to release cooling water at very high temperatures that is harmful to fish and aquatic life.
- The Chesterfield Power Station is within an area of critical habitat for Atlantic sturgeon where the endangered species is known to spawn. Additional scrutiny of permit limits is required to ensure that Atlantic sturgeon are not negatively affected.
- The James River watershed is home to one-third of all Virginians, who live in its 39 counties and 19 cities and towns. The river serves as a drinking water source for millions via water intakes for public water systems including one downstream of the proposed discharge near Hopewell.
HOW TO JOIN US: An informational briefing starts at 6:00 PM and oral comments will be received from the public during tomorrow night’s public hearing starting at 7:00PM.
Thomas Dale High School – West Campus
3900 West Hundred Road
Chester, VA 23831
In September, the State Water Control Board will hold a hearing where a final decision will be made on the Chesterfield wastewater permit. Importantly, if you wish to speak at the State Water Control Board meeting you must have either submitted oral comments during the July 6 public hearing or submitted written comments.
IF YOU CANNOT MAKE IT TOMORROW EVENING, you can still voice your opinion by submitting written comments by July 21st!
Comments can be sent to:
DEQ – Piedmont Regional Office, 4949-A Cox Road, Glen Allen, VA 23060
Fax: (804) 527-5106
Background: Dewatering is the first step in the process to close coal ash ponds which hold millions of gallons of wastewater that contain toxic chemicals including arsenic, cadmium, copper, lead, mercury, nickel, selenium, and zinc. Dewatering involves the removal of this wastewater from the ponds and then discharging the water into the James with some level of treatment. Coal ash, a byproduct of burning coal to produce electricity, has been stored for decades in water-filled ponds at locations across the country. Many of these ponds were created before modern environmental regulations were established to ensure the safe management of coal ash. The Chesterfield Power Station is one of 3 facilities on the James River where coal ash ponds are being closed. The other 2 facilities are the Bremo Power Station and Chesapeake Energy Center on the Elizabeth River.
Earlier this year, Dominion was issued a wastewater permit at the Bremo Power Station to dewater coal ash ponds. Strong public involvement was critical to achieving major modifications to that permit. While the final permit was significantly stronger than the draft permit, the final permit fell short of protecting the health of the James River. As a result, the James River Association appealed the permit and later entered into a settlement agreement with Dominion that includes an enhanced treatment system to ensure water quality standards are met before water is discharged into the James.
While the 3 facilities will require wastewater permits for the dewatering process, each facility will also require a solid waste permit that will oversee the permanent closure of these ponds. A draft solid waste permit for the Chesapeake Energy Center is currently out for public comment, and it is expected that solid waste permits for both Bremo and Chesterfield will be out for public comment later this summer.