Safe Disposal of Coal Ash at Possum Point Campaign
PROJECT UPDATE: Virginia lawmakers have approved legislation to require the state’s largest electric utility to excavate and clean up unlined coal ash pits. The General Assembly approved legislation that requires Dominion Energy to recycle or safely landfill millions of cubic yards of coal ash currently located at sites around the state. Gov. Ralph Northam is expected to sign the legislation.
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)
Possum Point is a sleepy rural mid income community of families and retired military folks who live a simple life along Quantico Creek and the Potomac River. Dan and Patty Marrow, chose to raise their three children on Possum Point Road because they believed it was a safe, wholesome community. Little did they know that […]
We had a huge win on coal ash on Friday! The coal ash bill passed in the VA General Assembly and heads to the Governor for his signature! While this does not fix the damage from decades of heavy metals that have poisoned our rivers, our fish, and our communities, it is, however, the end […]
Join me at the Department of Environmental Quality public hearing on closing Possum Point coal ash ponds, Tuesday, February 12 at 7:00 p.m. Potomac Senior High School, 3401 Panther Pride Drive, Dumfries, VA. We are close to a historic legislative agreement to clean up coal ash at Possum Point, but we need your help to […]
Potomac Riverkeeper Network (PRKN) and Potomac Riverkeeper Dean Naujoks today applauded the agreement which resulted in pending legislation to resolve the Commonwealth’s longstanding coal ash pollution problem. The bill, SB 1533, requires that all legacy coal ash in the Commonwealth be recycled or safely landfilled within 15 years, rather than left in the current dangerous […]
Here is some language you can use to write to your Virginia state Senator to tell him or her to support SB 1533 and finally end Virginia’s dangerous coal ash problem. You can find your Senator and contact information here. Dear Senator Insert Name, I write to urge you to support legislation, SB 1533 filed by […]
We still need your help on the coal ash legislation! The good news is the bill passed out of the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, but it’s not up for a full Senate vote yet! Dominion flexed its muscle, and our coal ash bill has now been referred to the Senate Finance Committee, where […]
Here is the contact information for the Virginia Senate Finance Committee: Co-Chair Thomas K. Norment, Jr. District 3 Capitol number (804) 698-7503 District number (757) 259-7810 District03@senate.virginia.gov Map: https://www.vpap.org/offices/state-senate-3/redistricting/ Co-Chair Emmett W. Hanger, Jr. District 24 Capitol number (804) 698-7524 District number (540) 885-6898 District24@senate.virginia.gov Map: https://www.vpap.org/offices/state-senate-24/redistricting/ Janet D. Howell District 32 Capitol number (804) […]
Happy New Year! I now have more than six months at Potomac Riverkeeper Network behind me – I wrote earlier about how much fun I’ve had learning about the organization and the beautiful resources we have the privilege to protect. Over the past year, my appreciation for the important work the Potomac Riverkeeper Network does […]
We urgently need your help to solve Virginia’s coal ash pollution problem! And we need it by Thursday noon, January 17! Virginia’s Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee is considering our long sought-after legislation to finally clean up Dominion’s coal ash mess! And they meet Thursday afternoon! Call or email the members of the Committee – […]
Virginia Senate Agricultural and Natural Resources Committee Richard H. Stuart District 28 Capitol number (804) 698-7528 District number (804) 493-8892 Email: District28@senate.virginia.gov Map: https://www.vpap.org/offices/state-senate-28/redistricting/ Emmett W. Hanger, Jr. District 24 Capitol number (804) 698-7524 District number (540) 885-6898 Email: District24@senate.virginia.gov Map: https://www.vpap.org/offices/state-senate-24/redistricting/ Frank M. Ruff, Jr. District 15 Capitol number (804) 698-7515 District number (434) […]