Safe Disposal of Coal Ash at Possum Point Campaign
PRKN is using litigation and grassroots political outreach to push for a full cleanup of Possum Point’s coal ash pollution, investigation of Dominion’s handling of coal ash, and the excavation and removal of all coal ash at the site to a lined landfill away from the Potomac River. Our goal is to make sure these toxic coal ash ponds are no longer a threat to Quantico Creek, the Potomac and public drinking water supplies.
Possum Point Power Plant
Dominion, one of Virginia’s largest energy companies, owns and operates the Possum Point Power Plant, located just south of Alexandria on a peninsula between Quantico Creek and the Potomac River. The plant burned coal from 1955 to 2003. Coal ash, the waste produced from burning coal, is disposed of at the site in five “ponds” that hold over a billion gallons of toxic coal ash and contaminated water. Although the plant switched to natural gas in 2003, the ponds are still being used to store millions of tons of this toxic slurry – all of which is located along the banks of Quantico Creek.
Coal ash contains a range of metals that are toxic at high levels, including lead, arsenic, chromium, selenium and vanadium, and is typically stored in unlined pits at coal plants, often built where wetlands once were, or constructed on hillsides with large earthen and rock berms to contain the ash and stormwater that combines to create coal ash “ponds.” Subsequently, this slurry can leach out of the ponds and pollute nearby groundwater and waterways. This can be expedited from severe rainstorm events. In 2014, Potomac Riverkeeper Network discovered that all five ponds at Possum Point were seeping directly into the Creek or leaching coal ash waste into local groundwater around the facility, resulting in contamination of the groundwater and illegal surface water discharges from the site.
During a routine flyover in June 2015, Potomac Riverkeeper Network discovered Pond E was empty, prompting Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) to notify DEQ Director David Paylor that pond E may have been drained into Quantico Creek. On June 19, 2015 Director Paylor responded by email; “we know that water was moved between ponds but our best information is that no water was discharged to state waters.” On June 22, 2015, Potomac Riverkeeper filed a complaint to EPA Criminal Investigation Division describing potential discharging or dewatering waste water from Dominion’s coal ash pond E at Possum Point into an unnamed tributary (known as the Beaver Pond) of Quantico Creek.
In September 2015, Potomac Riverkeeper Network, represented by SELC, filed a 60-day Notice of Intent (NOI) to sue Dominion for illegal discharges of toxic coal ash into Quantico Creek and ground water (read factsheet). After filing Notice of Intent, PRKN continued to monitor the facility for illegal discharges into Quantico Creek and to take water and sediment samples at the site perimeter to test for unsafe levels of heavy metals. PRKN joined state lawmakers in calling for testing of drinking water wells for nearby residents, to find out whether their drinking water has been affected by the coal ash leaks into groundwater.
TIMELINE OF EVENTS (click on arrows for details)
I have some progress to report in our fight against legacy coal ash in Virginia. You probably recall that the Virginia legislature earlier last year required Dominion to issue a request for proposal to analyze the feasibility of recycling its near 28 million tons of coal ash stored throughout the Chesapeake Watershed in ponds along […]
Read the media coverage from the October 9, 2018 Virginia legislature joint subcommittee hearing on Dominion’s coal ash. Richmond Times Dispatch Coal Ash Article Virginia Mercury Coal Ash Article WCVE Coal Ash Article
In the wake of Hurricane Florence and reports of coal ash breaches in North Carolina, a group of Virginia environmental organizations released a statement calling for Virginia to require the responsible removal of coal ash from unlined waterfront pits, whether through executive action or legislation. Removal ensures communities will be kept safe and, by incorporating […]
Well, they’re at it again! Under the Obama Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency adopted the first-ever federal protections against the dangers posed by coal ash. That rule requires closure of ash dumps in dangerous locations (including within five feet of groundwater), regular inspection of coal ash ponds, monitoring of groundwater near coal ash sites, closure of leaking ponds, […]
I’ve written previously about the report released Friday, March 2, by Dominion Energy confirming groundwater contamination at its coal burning facility in Possum Point, VA here. The report proves extensive ground water pollution has been detected at all of its monitoring wells and also proves contamination is leaking out of Pond D toward the Potomac […]
Washington, DC – March 6 – Potomac Riverkeeper Network (PRKN) today assailed the report posted Friday, March 2 by Dominion Energy about the groundwater contamination at its Possum Point Power Station in Dumfries , VA. “Dominion’s report proves extensive ground water pollution has been detected at all of its monitoring wells and proves contamination is […]
Washington, DC – March 1 – Potomac Riverkeeper Network (PRKN) says that recent disclosures made by utility companies confirm longstanding groundwater contamination at coal ash sites located across the US due to inadequate storage of coal ash in unlined, leaking waste ponds. “Coal ash ponds do not have modern protective liners and as a result […]
Yesterday, the Virginia Commerce & Labor Committee dealt with the six coal ash bills referred to it. Here is the bill that was passed out of the Committee. It does 3 things: Imposes a moratorium on DEQ issuing any coal ash solid waste permits at Dominion sites until July 1, 2019. Exception – allows DEQ to permit […]
First, thank you for your help this past week — your calls and personal emails really made a difference! Virginia Senators said the response on coal ash was overwhelming because you picked up the phone to demand that Dominion clean up its toxic coal ash! But our work isn’t done! Lawmakers are not saying why they […]
We really need your help. Starting the week of January 29, the Virginia Senate will begin consideration, in various committees, of five bills introduced by Senator Scott Surovell, all dealing with coal ash and its remediation. Passage of these bills is absolutely critical to ensure that the pollution and public health threat posed by Dominion’s […]