Dominion coal ash ponds

Dominion coal ash ponds at Possum Point. By Roger Snyder/For InsideNoVa.com

Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart had strong words for the state board that gave Virginia Dominion Power its blessing Thursday to move forward with plans to treat and flush about 200 million gallons of coal-ash water into Quantico Creek.

Stewart said he’s “disgusted” by the State Water Control Board’s vote and called Dominion “a horrible corporate citizen.”

“They don’t care about the public or anything other than the bottom line,” Stewart said of Dominion in an interview after the vote. “And they don’t give a damn about polluting the creek and endangering the public health. As a county, our first duty is to protect public safety, and Dominion isn’t doing that, in collusion with the state government.”

Stewart also didn’t mince words about the State Water Control Board, a group of citizens appointed by the governor to ensure the Department of Environmental Quality acts in the public interest.

“It just goes to prove that the state Water Control Board is a toothless organization that essentially just toes the line of the DEQ and Dominion,” he added. “Obviously, they’ve lost their way. Obviously they’re just a rubber stamp for whatever DEQ and Dominion wants.”

While it’s not uncommon for Stewart to pointedly speak his mind, he’s been particularly critical of Dominion Power for this and other recent controversies, including a plan to string a new high-voltage power line through parts of Gainesville and Haymarket to serve a new data center. (Stewart supports the data center but not the proposed route for the power lines, an issue scheduled for state consideration later this year.)

On Tuesday, Stewart announced the Board of Supervisors would hire an outside consultant with expertise on coal ash to advise county leaders on Dominion’s plans to consolidate and clean up five coal-ash ponds at the Dumfries-area Possum Point Power Plant.

Dominion already holds a discharge permit, monitored by DEQ, that allows it to release storm water and industrial wastewater into the creek, under certain regulations. But Dominion needs a modification to that permit to flush an estimated 215 million gallons of water from the toxic coal ash ponds, which is what the State Water Control Board approved Thursday.

Stewart said the supervisors would decide whether the county should take legal action to try to stop the dewatering of the ponds depending on the consultant’s advice.

If the county files an injunction to stop the cleanup, they won’t be alone.

Phil Musegaas, legal director for the Potomac Riverkeeper Network, said the environmental organization plans to appeal the permit and file an injunction to stop the dewatering.

Musegaas said the Potomac Riverkeeper Network will push to have the water treated to “drinking water standards,” which is possible, he said, by using certain technologies. Also, they want the coal ash moved away from the waterfront, preferably to a synthetically lined landfill.

“The main problem here is they are allowing this discharge of all these metals, which at high levels are dangerous to human health,” Musegaas said. “We have no choice now but to seek an appeal to this permit.”

Dominion, meanwhile, maintains that its permit application complies with all state and federal regulations and is “fully protective of human health, water quality and aquatic life in the Potomac and Quantico Creek,” said Cathy Taylor, the utility’s director of electric environmental services.

DEQ staff also recommended approval of the permit, based on its recent revisions, which includes new effluent limits and testing to monitor a “toe drain” beneath pond D, that DEQ officials acknowledged in December has likely been leaking coal ash contaminants into Quantico Creek for decades.

Bryant Thomas, a DEQ water permitting manager who gave an overview of the permit modification to the State Water Control Board, said the permit also contains stricter testing and discharge limits for the dewatering.

Dominion must limit the drawdown to 2.88 million gallons a day and must conduct tests on the nearby waterway three times a week to make sure no pollutants exceed the permit’s limits.

The permit requires Dominion to submit testing results to the DEQ weekly and mandates that the discharge be stopped, and mitigations put in place, if Dominion becomes aware that monitored contaminants exceed the permit’s limits.

Those speaking against the permit included state Sen. Scott Surovell, a Democrat whose district includes Possum Point; Kevin Brown, mayor of the Town of Quantico; Martin Gary, executive secretary of the Potomac River Fisheries Commission; and representatives from the Sierra Club, the Potomac Riverkeeper Network and an open-water swimming group.

All urged the board to delay or deny the permit.

“Once you pump that stuff into the creek… it’s there forever. There’s no turn back on this,” Surovell said. “You all need to consider the concern of the public and give that a lot of weight…. I think the mood of the public is very clear.”

Only one board member voted against approving the permit: Roberta Kellam, of Franktown. She said she’d never heard such strong opposition to a permit application, “particularly from local and state government stakeholders,” in her five years on the board.

Kellam asked if the board could delay the vote to have more time “to address some of these concerns.”

But David Grandis, a representative from the Virginia Attorney General’s office, said the decision to extend the public comment period “rests only with the director” of the DEQ, David Paylor, who does not see a legal reason to do so.

“So the board is not at liberty, at this point, to extend the public comment period or revoke the permit without the applicant’s [Dominion’s] permission,” Grandis added.

Paylor said state law dictates the 90-day public comment period and said it’s the board’s responsibility to make “expeditious decisions.”

Paylor added, however, that the board is free to make their own decision as to whether the permit satisfies state law.

“There is absolutely no rubber-stamping here,” Paylor said. “We will make our recommendation here, but it is up to the board, based on what you’ve heard and read in the public record, whether we’ve adequately satisfied the laws and regulations.”

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(25) comments

insidebugs

“They don’t care about the public or anything other than the bottom line,” Stewart said of Dominion

Or was that a Freudian slip there, governor?

Seriously, I am glad he is taking a stand against this but I do wonder how much of it is just part of his snake charmer act. Did someone over at Dominion forget to make a donation this year?

jna

Same pols who say No to renewable energy year after year in the General Assembly.

Virginia is ranked 45th for solar installations. Maryland is ranked 9th and North Carolina is ranked 5th. New Jersey is ranked 3rd.

BTW, General Electric has been producing wind turbine components in Roanoke for years, but the General Assembly doesn't allow wind farms.

BTW, Dominion has partnered with Duke Energy to produce photovoltaic electricity in North Carolina.

Touchliner

Kudos to Corey Stewart for speaking out so forcefully. Although my gut reaction is to agree with Stewart's position I have to wonder why the State Water Control Board voted so overwhelmingly in Dominion's favor, especially regarding such a controversial decision. Perhaps InsideNova could dig a little deeper on this.

insidebugs

Investigative journalism from insidenova?!? Now that's a pipe dream. I couldn't find any meeting minutes posted so you might have to make your own inquiries.

Robert Dunn (Chair Chester, Virginia)
Lou Ann Jessee-Wallace (St. Paul, Virginia)
Joseph H. Nash (Woodbridge, Virginia)
Thomas M. Branin (Glen Allen, Virginia)
Roberta A. Kellam (Franktown, Virginia)
G. Nissa Dean (Henrico, Virginia)
Heather Wood (Norfolk, Virginia)

c/o Office of Regulatory Affairs
Department of Environmental Quality
P.O. Box 1105
Richmond, Virginia 23218

citizenboards@deq.virginia.gov

Pleasantly23

Inside nova looking into something? LOL.

Paul Miller

Maybe because it's not so controversial?

This is coal ash, which I believe every coal burning power plant in the country is allowed to store in open pools. Coal ash itself is benign, as far as I know. However the pools also collect some dangerous metals, although not concentrated to the point where any state I've heard of requires anything more than what every power company has done for decades. The board dictated the number of gallons per day Dominion could flush, presumably based on some guidelines.

I certainly could be wrong here, and by all means anyone who is suspicious ought to look deeper, but I really doubt we're talking Love Canal II here. Yes, I know one of the metals is the same, but I suspect the concentrations of that metal are entirely different. We have some bad metals in our drinking water, too - the water that never gets close to those coal ash ponds. Apparently so long as concentrations remain below certain thresholds, it's considered safe.

insidebugs

"what every power company has done for decades" coupled with the signs along our waterways warning us about consuming the fish due to toxins is about all the digging I need to do. What has been done for decades has been failing us and the health of the Potomac is marginal at best. Clean water should be more of a priority than electricity as we can exist without one but not the other.

Outsidebugs

This is because Prince William County's state legislators are in the pocket of Dominion. I'm glad Stewart is speaking out, but why does he continue to support these people who are selling us out?

Rose5

I just checked the bills filed by all of our state delegates I could remember and not one of them is taking on Dominion on this. Some of their bills are ridiculous. Delegate Rich Anderson has filed a bill to try to permit what Republican Guy Guiffre on the PWC electoral board is being investigated for. It would require absentee ballot signatures to be matched up against the signature on the voter registration form and if the party representatives disagree it is marked a provisional ballot and the electoral board, which is controlled by one party or another has to decide. Of course there is no requirement that anyone have any expertise in signature analysis. There is not one shred of evidence regarding voter fraud and Rich Anderson is again making it harder for people of modest means to vote. It's already hard enough that they have to vote absentee and now they would have to appear before the electoral board at a later date to argue about their signature.

BertThorton

Maybe Rich is trying to create a defense for Guiffre.

bmw325

Don't expect anything from Inside Nova except continuing being chamber of commerce boosters and supporting the political status quo. Same for the Post since Amazon bought the paper. Seen Amazon installing photovoltaic panels on any of its buildings? You won't.

BertThorton

Senator Scott Surovell put in a bill to clean up coal ash dumps (SB537), but he's a Democrat. He represents a big chunk of Prince William County and he's taking them on.

It doesn't look like any of the other Prince William legislators co-sponsored his bill.

Americanmom

Why doesn't someone get the EPA involved?

insidebugs

HAHAHAHA, I nearly lost my milk.

This was approved by the Dept of Environmental Quality (DEQ), VA's EPA equivalent. Neither federal or state org cares unless the vig hasn't been paid; look at the political donations Dominion Resources and all it's various subsidiaries have made to both parties and the mysterious PACs. Even Christie's PAC got a donation, why don't we ship that ash up to the Jersey Turnpike.

Deep pockets gets deep back rubs.

Penny

Inside Nova would never go after Dominion, or anyone else except for the working class who are unfortunate to be drawn into the legal system for being poor and ignorant. (like kids writing threats on the walls of their high schools). That's how Inside Nova gets to publish the Quantico and Belvoir base newspapers. Oh, and Inside Nova's owner rides in the Middleburg Hunt with Dominion VIPs.

RealW

This all stinks and is tied into Prince William County's elected officials. Dominion's chief lobbyist is Jim Beamer, who is co-chair of Rubio's campaign in Virginia. The state chair is Delegate Tim Hugo. The co-chairs of Veterans for Rubio are Delegate Rich Anderson and Supervisor Ruth Anderson. Endorsements include Gainesville Supervisor Peter Candland and Gainesville and Brentsville Supervisors Gil Trenum and Alyson Satterwhite. These people, especially our state legislators Tim Hugo and Rich Anderson are in bed with Dominion.

PWCWatcher

This is nonsense. Hugo has gone hard against Dominion to force them to bury the powerlines along I-66 -- that they do not want to do.

Elected officials are not defined by one issue or who they support or oppose on one issue or another. But this "connect-the-dots" is just Stewart's favorite assassin - who now has moved to Fairfax County -- who does all of his dirty work to attack other politicians.

Stewart should absolutely tell this whack-job to stay out of Prince William politics. She is an egomaniac who will tell any lie and do any dirty trick Stewart wants, and he injures himself by allowing her to play these dirty games.

C4talyst

Virginia has approved a plan by Dominion Power to dump 200 million gallons of largely untreated coal ash wastewater into Quantico Creek, a tributary of the Potomac River and home to a thriving population of bald eagles and other wildlife. We need numbers to make a difference. Please sign and share our petition on Change.org, asking Governor McAuliffe to intervene in this issue.

http://chn.ge/1IAjuVt

Updated information is maintained here:

http://potomacriverbaldeagles.com/quanticocreek

Citizen52

Someone mentioned getting the EPA involved. Surely we're not talking about the same EPA behind one of the biggest toxic spills in Colorado history. Please spare us!

insidebugs

EPA is already well aware. It is new coal ash regulations that have helped motivate companies like dominion to make changes in addition to spills such as the one in the Dan River in 2014. EPA claims it regulates coal ash because it "contains contaminants like mercury, cadmium and arsenic. Without proper management, these contaminants can pollute waterways, ground water, drinking water, and the air."
EPA has set standards for contaminant levels in wastewater being discharged. The same agency also promotes recycling coal ash by using it in building materials and to line our roads....and asbestos seemed like a good idea at the time much like the jury is still out on the artificial turf fields made of recycled tires.

http://www.epa.gov/coalash

bmw325

Right now is the time to write or e-mail your Delegate and Senator. While you're at it, ask him/her why he/she doesn't allow wind power in a state that produces wind power generating components for the rest of the world. Also ask why Dominion has to partner with Duke Energy to produce solar power in NC for export to VA.

insidebugs

Wind has it's pros and cons an even though it is considered a green energy there is evidence it disrupts nature on top of being an eye sore.

Dominion has started solar in VA.
https://www.dom.com/corporate/what-we-do/electricity/generation/solar/virginia-solar-projects
But even solar panels have a life cycle and will become garage that has to be dealt with.

There is no easy fix for our energy addition. But as the coal ash problem shows, we need to get smarter about the systems we create.

Piedmont reporter


PWC Watcher shares many of the undesirable attributes with the lobbyists in the Va Genral Assembly.

He is a pathological liar, scumbag consultant with a criminal record.

PWC Wacher loves the attention he gets by throwing his gigantic weight around and controlling his childish student.

Piedmont reporter

Kudos to Chairman Stewart. Dominion attempts to cover ther dirty deeds by giving to our local schools here in PWC. It is a tactic that use over and over agin to distract residents from what is going on behind the scenes.

The hardworking folks right here in PWC need help and the fact that their state delegates have not stepped up to the plate to help them is disappointing.

I would recommend folks take a look at the VPAP the Va Public Access Project and click on Dominion. Dominion is slick and gives to everyone to cover all their bases.

insidebugs

DOMINION RESOURCES INC goes by a lot of names. Here are just a few donations made by Dom brass. Tom is the CEO and he is very generous, especially when it comes to discharging his waste into our watershed.

FARRELL, THOMAS F MR
RICHMOND,VA 23229 DOMINION RESOURCES INC. 10/4/2014 $17,400 National Republican Congressional Cmte
FARRELL, THOMAS F MR
RICHMOND,VA 23229 DOMINION RESOURCES INC. 3/29/2013 $14,800 National Republican Congressional Cmte
FARRELL, THOMAS F MR
RICHMOND,VA 23229 DOMINION RESOURCES 9/4/2013 $10,000 Republican National Cmte
FARRELL, THOMAS F MR
RICHMOND,VA 23229 DOMINION RESOURCES 6/23/2014 $10,000 Republican National Cmte
FARRELL, THOMAS F MR
RICHMOND,VA 23229 DOMINION RESOURCES INC. 5/2/2014 $10,000 National Republican Congressional Cmte
FARRELL, THOMAS
RICHMOND,VA 23229 DOMINION RESOURCES, INC. 2/6/2013 $10,000 Seventh District Republican Cmte
FARRELL, THOMAS
RICHMOND,VA 23229 DOMINION RESOURCES, INC. 5/2/2014 $10,000 Seventh District Republican Cmte
FARRELL, THOMAS F II
RICHMOND,VA 23261 DOMINION RESOURCES 6/27/2014 $5,000 Nextgen GOP
FARRELL, THOMAS F
RICHMOND,VA 23229 DOMINION RESOURCES 2/6/2013 $5,000 Every Republican is Crucial PAC
FARRELL, THOMAS F
RICHMOND,VA 23229 DOMINION RESOURCES 5/2/2014 $5,000 Every Republican is Crucial PAC
FARRELL, THOMAS F II
HENRICO,VA 23229 DOMINION RESOURCES 8/22/2014 $5,000 Democratic Party of Virginia
DRAGAS, HELEN
VIRGINIA BEACH,VA 23451 DOMINION RESOURCES 9/2/2014 $5,000 Dominion Resources
WOLLARD, DAVID
RICHMOND,VA 23219 DOMINION RESOURCES 9/15/2014 $5,000 Dominion Resources

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