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 coal ash disposal options before being issued a solid waste permit by Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. The Governor’s amendments need to be voted on and approved by the Virginia State Senate and House before taking effect.
“This is a victory for clean water — Governor McAuliffe deserves credit for responding to the widespread public concern about the public health impacts of coal ash in their communities. We’re hopeful that Virginia legislators will do the same — the people of Virginia deserve a solution that protects their drinking water, their property values and the Potomac River,” says Potomac Riverkeeper Dean Naujoks. “It took bi-partisan support to get us here, and that will need to continue for these precautions to remain intact through the vote.”
Senate Bill 1398, was introduced by Senator Scott Surovell (D-Alexandria) and co-sponsored by Senator Amanda Chase (R-Chesterfield).
Coal ash is the second largest source of industrial pollution in the country and is a byproduct of fossil fuel based electricity generation. Over 140 million tons are created annually. Typically, it contains heavy metals including, but not limited to, arsenic, lead, mercury, cadmium, chromium and selenium. Heavy metals associated with coal ash can cause cancer, nervous system impacts, cognitive deficits, developmental delays, heart damage, lung disease, kidney disease, reproductive problems, birth defects and impaired bone growth in children. The Environmental Protection Agency has found that living next to a coal ash disposal site can increase the risk of cancer or other diseases. If you live near an unlined wet ash pond (surface containment) and get your drinking water from a well, you may have as much as a 1 in 50 chance of getting cancer from drinking arsenic-contaminated water.
Governor McAuliffe’s statement: https://governor.virginia.gov/newsroom/newsarticle?articleId=19839