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)
We had a big victory on coal ash yesterday. Virginia Governor McAuliffe signed into law safeguards to protect public health and the environment that we’ve been fighting for years and put a freeze on all coal ash solid waste permits! Last year’s coal ash bill died quietly in committee. Dominion seemed poised to get the […]
When our coal ash campaign began three years ago, neighbors of Dominion’s Possum Point plant didn’t know a toxic cocktail of arsenic and heavy metals was leaking into their wells. The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (VDEQ) didn’t know Dominion was pumping 27.5 millions of gallons of untreated coal ash water into Quantico Creek — […]
On Wednesday, March 22, 2017, Governor McAuliffe announced that he is restoring the common sense measures to Virginia Senate Bill 1398 (SB 1398) that require Dominion Power to fully assess risks to water quality and the environment posed by coal ash pollution. His proposed amendments re-instate a requirement for Dominion to complete an assessment of […]
Our coal ash campaign at Possum Point really intensified over the last month. Working closely with reporters, we generated substantial media coverage, which put pressure on local officials to take a stand. We had several important deadlines within a short time — potentially the last two public meetings with the Prince William Board of Supervisors […]
Prince William County Voters to Dominion Power: Recycle/Move to Safe, Lined Landfills 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 […]
A big thank you to those who made the effort to attend the public meeting February 16th on the toxic coal ash at Possum Point, Virginia. The turnout was HUGE and the families who’ve had their water poisoned were deeply moved by the outpouring of support. Over a hundred people delivered a very clear message […]
Statement from the Southern Environmental Law Center and the Potomac Riverkeeper Network Today it came to our attention that Dominion Virginia Power is making some effort to extend municipal water lines to homes near the Possum Point Power Station. Our testing in the past has identified contaminants in well water there that are commonly linked […]
On September 27th, Potomac Riverkeeper presented its case against the discharge permit issued to Dominion by Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), allowing Dominion to drain its largest coal ash pit at Possum Point power plant into Quantico Creek and the Potomac River. Under the permit, Dominion is allowed to dump about 200 million gallons […]
A recent Post article about Maryland’s withdrawal of its challenge to Dominion’s Possum Point waste water permit gives the impression the fight over Dominion’s “cap-in-place” coal ash plan is over. For Brian West, who lives 705 feet from Dominion’s Possum Point coal ash ponds, the fight is just beginning. And our challenge continues. The same […]
Press Release: Town of Dumfries Calls for EPA Criminal Investigation into Dominion 27.5 Million Gallon Coal Ash Wastewater Dump Into Quantico Creek
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 […]