80% of Virginia Voters Polled Support Stronger Coal Ash Protections at Possum Point

Prince William County Voters to Dominion Power: Recycle/Move to Safe, Lined Landfills

Contact: Dean Naujoks, Potomac Riverkeeper, 336 809 6041, Dean(at)prknetwork.org

Washington, D.C. (February 7, 2017) A recent poll conducted by the Cromer Group revealed overwhelming support for alternatives to Dominion Power’s plan to permanently dispose of 4 million tons of harmful coal ash at its Possum Point power plant near Quantico, Virginia.  The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality just released a draft permit that would allow the coal ash to be left in a waste pit that doesn’t meet federal standards designed to prevent industrial landfills from contaminating groundwater, despite the fact that the same pit has a history of leaking coal ash metals into nearby groundwater. 

In the poll of Prince William registered voters, 80% said they “would be more likely to support a plan to move this coal ash to a safe, fully lined modern landfill somewhere else away from homes and drinking water supplies…”

The poll revealed strong support for local government oversight, with 80% of respondents saying the Prince William Board of Supervisors should require Dominion to come up with alternative solutions other than capping the coal ash and leaving it in place before they get approval for a permit to store the coal ash. The Board of Supervisors next meet on February 14th and proponents of safe disposal of coal ash are expected to attend.

“Coal ash contains a long list of toxins and heavy metals linked to cancer, so it’s just common sense that Dominion should be required to store it in a landfill with at least the same level of protection as the landfill your household trash goes to,” said Dean Naujoks, Potomac Riverkeeper. “But that hasn’t happened with Dominion Power. When one of the biggest campaign contributors in Virginia is also one of the biggest polluters in Virginia, regulatory action doesn’t always happen as soon as we’d like.”

Dominion has been plagued with problems relating to its coal ash waste at Possum Point in recent months, ranging from problems with its dewatering of the largest coal ash pond to ongoing concerns about coal ash metals leaching through groundwater into neighboring properties and Quantico Creek. Public concerns were heightened when Dominion’s own monitoring results at the plant, and independent lab analysis of the drinking water of neighboring families revealed the presence of arsenic and other carcinogenic heavy metals associated with coal ash in groundwater and people’s private drinking water wells.

“When I showed our lab results to the same Virginia Tech lab that confirmed the high lead levels in Flint, Michigan we heard about in the news, the advice I was given was to immediately stop drinking the water and move,” said Dan Marrow, who has lived next to Dominion’s Possum Point power plant for over 20 years. “Hearing that after raising our children on well water we thought was safe was the biggest shock of my life. We had no idea Dominion was poisoning us.”

After initially denying any link between its coal ash waste pits and this contamination, Dominion subsequently announced it may offer financial assistance to several families near Possum Point to connect to city waterlines. 

The public will have two opportunities to comment in person:

  • February 14th, 2pm and again at 7:30pm at the Prince William Board of Supervisors meeting at Prince William Count McCoart Building, 1 County Complex Court, Woodbridge, VA 22192
  • February 16th, 7 pm at the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality hearing at Potomac High School 3401 Panther Pride Drive, Dumfries, VA 22026

Public comments are being accepted through March 10th and can be submitted by email to:  PossumPointPowerStationWastePermit@deq.virginia.gov

The poll can be found here: http://bit.ly/2lltaZH

More information about coal ash can be found here: http://www.potomacriverkeepernetwork.org/possum-point