For Immediate Release, March 10, 2016
Contact: Dean Naujoks, Potomac Riverkeeper 336-809-6041
DEQ Director Denied Contaminated Water from Ash Ponds Was Dumped to State Waters
Washington DC — The Town of Dumfries council voted unanimously to request an EPA criminal investigation into the relationship between Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and Dominion Virginia Power. The 6-0 vote follows the Town’s decision last week to file a formal complaint with EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division (CID), prompted by the recent discovery of a 27.5 million gallons discharge of untreated coal ash water into Quantico Creek. Councilman William Murphy moved that the Town, on behalf of Council, make a formal request to the EPA, stating “nothing will change my mind that an EPA investigation into the matter is needed.” The letter was sent yesterday to Agent Nicole Bein, EPA Criminal Investigations Division in Washington, DC.
Dominion Virginia Power recently admitted the company dumped 33.7 million gallons of untreated coal ash waste water from its Possum Point Power Station in May 2015 into Quantico Creek, which flows into the Potomac River. Dominion Power then met privately with Virginia DEQ on February 3rd and revised its number to 27.5 million gallons, more contaminated coal ash water than was spilled into the Dan River by Duke Energy in its catastrophic 2014 coal ash spill. Dominion didn't publicly acknowledge it dumped untreated coal ash water until after the company received approval of its permit modification from Virginia DEQ and the State Water Control Board on January 14th 2016.
In a February Inside Nova article, Dominion acknowledged for the first time that it dumped 33.7 million gallons of untreated coal ash wastewater from Possum Point’s second largest coal ash waste pond into Quantico Creek. While Dominion claims that draining the waste pond complied with its Virginia discharge permit, the fact remains that the company dumped over half of the 52 million gallon waste pond into Virginia waters without any treatment to remove arsenic, lead, cadmium, selenium and other toxic metals typically found in coal ash waste. And the public never had an opportunity to raise concerns during the permit review period, because Dominion did not acknowledge the dumping until after its permit was approved by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.
Virginia DEQ Regional Director, Thomas Faha from the DEQ Northern Regional Office reported that the agency was aware Dominion had discharged water from pond E in May 2015 when he spoke at the February meeting of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors. Faha’s statements directly contradict previous written statements made by DEQ Director David Paylor that “no water was discharged” from Dominion’s coal ash ponds.
“We applaud the Town of Dumfries for its leadership to address coal ash contamination in the Dumfries community” said Potomac Riverkeeper, Dean Naujoks.” We have a right to know why Director Paylor intentionally misled the public or whether he was misled by his staff or Dominion. Director Paylor, DEQ and Dominion’s stories don’t add up, only raising more suspicion about what happened, and who knew what when.”