Virginia turning a corner on coal ash cleanup

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA— Today the Northam Administration announced an agreement between the Commonwealth of Virginia and Dominion Energy to ensure that the coal ash at Dominion’s Chesapeake Energy Center will be required to meet the same regulatory standards as all coal ash facilities across the state.

“This agreement is a strong signal that the administration is taking coal ash remediation in Virginia seriously.  Dominion tried to keep most of the coal ash at the Chesapeake site—roughly 2.1 million tons of ash in leaking, unlined pits—off the radar, but under this agreement the company’s closure plan must deal with this ash in accordance with the standards set forth in the EPA’s Coal Combustion Residuals Rule,” said Deborah Murray, senior attorney, Southern Environmental Law Center. “Arsenic is leaking from these pits into the groundwater and the adjacent waterways, and, while we disagree that there is any uncertainty whether the coal ash at the Chesapeake site is subject to the CCR Rule, we are pleased that the administration stepped in to ensure that the same standards will apply.  We hope the administration will continue to move forward in protecting Virginians from coal ash by ensuring clean closure of these and other leaking unlined pits across the state.”

Also today, Dominion published a report mandated by the Virginia legislature to consider the feasibility and cost of recycling coal ash in Virginia.

“We plan to take a close look at this report and hope that it provides a more realistic take on recycling options in Virginia than the assessment Dominion provided last year. We know that coal ash can pose risks to our health and environment, and recycling offers a smart, cost-effective solution. It’s time Virginia joins the other states that are turning coal ash closure into a win-win.”

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For more than 30 years, the Southern Environmental Law Center has used the power of the law to champion the environment of the Southeast. With more than 80 attorneys and nine offices across the region, SELC is widely recognized as the Southeast’s foremost environmental organization and regional leader. SELC works on a full range of environmental issues to protect our natural resources and the health and well-being of all the people in our region. www.SouthernEnvironment.org

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