Potomac Riverkeeper Issues Rebuttal to Dominion Coal Ash Use Assessment

Rebuttal Highlights Faulty Logic, Misleading Statements, and Incomplete Information in Dominion Report

Washington, DC – January 18 – Potomac Riverkeeper Network (PRKN) and Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) today released their response and rebuttal to the coal ash assessment Dominion Energy provided to the Virginia General Assembly last December; the rebuttal demonstrates a wide variety of inaccuracies and deficiencies with the Dominion assessment.  “We said at the time Dominion submitted its assessment that the company was not taking seriously its responsibilities for the environmental damage it has caused, and this rebuttal really tells the story of how right we were,” said Jeff Kelble, President of PRKN.

The PRKN and SELC rebuttal outlines specific areas of failure in the Dominion assessment, which have a major influence on its conclusions about the feasibility of beneficial use as part of the closure plan for Dominion’s ash ponds.

Among the failures:

  • Dominion relied on assumptions that are spurious, unsubstantiated, biased, and contrary to evidence included in other places in the report. For example, the assessment assumes that the beneficial reuse of ash is not economically viable if it is transported more than 50 miles, but this assumption is unsubstantiated, leads to significant bias in market estimates, and at least as important, is also contrary to evidence included elsewhere in the Report where Dominion identified ash imports to Virginia from multiple locations more than 50 miles away, including India, South Carolina, and many other states of the Union.
  • Hydrologists engaged by PRKN and SELC confirmed that at three coal ash pond sites, including Possum Point ash is in contact with and contaminating the groundwater, which then flows directly into the surrounding rivers. Thus, the hydrologists concluded that mere installation of a cap will not stop the pollution, which will continue so long as the ash is in place. Dominion interpreted information in a biased manner that attempts to create a sense of uncertainty and using the uncertainty as grounds for dismissing beneficial use as an option.
  • It failed to provide a logical, holistic closure solution that includes beneficial use, and use of the lack of control of leaching to groundwater and surface water as evidence that beneficial use is not appropriate, when in fact control of leaching is necessary for all possible closure options.
  • It did not consider important markets for encapsulated beneficial use of ash materials without justification and thus significantly underestimates the market potential for beneficial use of ash.

“Closure in place as desired by Dominion would only perpetuate the threat from leaking ash ponds to nearby private citizen’s well-water and the Potomac River, as they have at Possum Point and other sites across the Commonwealth for decades,” said Phillip Musegaas, PRKN Vice President of Programs and Litigation.  “The General Assembly required Dominion to prepare an assessment of how to fix this problem, and regrettably, Dominion took the cheap and ineffective shortcut,” he continued.

“We have a new administration and new legislators taking office in the Commonwealth and we sincerely hope that they will review our original report about the importance of beneficial use of coal ash, along with this new report, to require Dominion to do its job,” said Dean Naujoks, Potomac Riverkeeper.

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. Our mission is to protect the public’s right to clean water in our rivers and streams. We stop pollution to promote safe drinking water, protect healthy habitats, and enhance public use and enjoyment.

For more information, visit https://www.potomacriverkeepernetwork.org.