On Wednesday, July 6th, 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 Dominion’s coal ash ponds.
On July 5 we will send another action alert to our Action Network outlining our major areas of concern with this permit so you can help us provide a voice for the river. To join our Action Network sign up at www.riveratrisk.org.
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.
The following are some key points about the coal ash pond closure process on the James River:
- 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 Riverwhere 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.
HOW TO JOIN US: On July 6 an informational briefing for the Chesterfield wastewater permit starts at 6:00 PM and oral comments will be received from the public during the public hearing starting at 7:00PM
On July 5 we will send another action alert outlining our major areas of concern with this permit so you can help us provide a voice for the river.
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 JULY 6th, you can still voice your opinion by submitting written comments by July 21st!
These can be sent to:
DEQ – Piedmont Regional Office, 4949-A Cox Road, Glen Allen, VA 23060
Fax: (804) 527-5106