Study Demonstrates Harm to Biodiversity, Heightened Concentration of Neurotoxic Heavy Metals in Sediment

Washington, DC – November 2 – Potomac Riverkeeper Network (PRKN) applauds the study of groundwater and sediment contamination from coal ash in Quantico Creek and Possum Point in Virginia undertaken by Professor Tyler Frankel of Mary Washington University, Potomac Riverkeeper Dean Naujoks  announced today.

Naujoks commented on the study: “Professor Frankel has provided the public with solid scientific evidence demonstrating the harm caused by coal ash residue leaching into Quantico Creek. He notes that biodiversity in Quantico Creek is significantly diminished and that sediment is contaminated by neurotoxins such as trace metals including arsenic, lead, and selenium, which pose a risk to organisms that either live in or come in contact with these contaminated sediments.” 

The report concludes that contaminated sediments appear to serve a critical role in the storage, transportation, and potential release of those toxic trace metals present in this system. Further, based on some samples taken, the highest concentrations of many of the metals were found in Quantico Creek adjacent to the coal ash ponds, suggesting that the Possum Point coal ash ponds are serving as a major point source.

Potomac Riverkeeper Network President Nancy Stoner said “PRKN has led the fight  to require Dominion to clean up their coal ash pollution at Possum Point.  We did the initial investigation and our findings ultimately led to the passage of legislation in 2019 to require removal and recycling of decades of harmful coal ash. Dr. Frankel’s new study demonstrates that Dominion’s coal ash is continuing to harm the environment and local communities.”

Naujoks, who initiated the coal ash investigation and worked to achieve the historic legislation to clean up the coal ash ponds at Possum Point, described the background of the devastation: “Dominion has repeatedly denied that its coal ash has harmed Quantico Creek and public health, but it was caught illegally dumping 27.5 million gallons of untreated toxic coal ash waste water into Quantico Creek. In 2016, VA DEQ suspended the discharge of  coal ash waste water to Quantico Creek from an unpermitted toe drain at one of its storage ponds.  The company has also contaminated private drinking wells on Possum Point and Cherry Hill Roads and then made residents sign non-disclosure agreements to obtain water lines Virginia legislation required them to run. Now Dominion wants Prince William County and the Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality to approve its proposed Do Nothing “natural recovery”  plan for heavily contaminated groundwater and support the approval of a toxic coal ash landfill near 1600 new homes in the Potomac Shores community.”

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About Potomac Riverkeeper Network

Potomac Riverkeeper Network is a registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization with three regional Waterkeeper branches: Potomac Riverkeeper, Upper Potomac Riverkeeper, and Shenandoah Riverkeeper. PRKN’s mission is to protect the right to clean water for all communities and all those who live in and rely upon the Potomac and Shenandoah watersheds by stopping pollution, making drinking water safe,  protecting healthy river habitats, and enhancing use and enjoyment for all.