News | December 15, 2017

Dominion ignores 2.1 million tons of coal ash in faulty assessment

In a glaring omission, Dominion Energy’s recent coal ash assessment fails to include any information about the large, unlined coal ash ponds leaking arsenic at its Chesapeake Energy Center, contrary to the requirements of the new Virginia law passed earlier this year. Senate Bill 1398 requires Dominion to assess and evaluate its coal ash facilities to provide information to the public, legislators, and regulators about how best to close the sites. But Dominion ignored the 2.1 million tons of coal ash in the unlined surface impoundment at Chesapeake Energy Center known as the “Historic Pond,” which contains roughly two-thirds of the ash at the site. 

In a letter sent to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality today, SELC is urging the agency to take action and force Dominion to comply with the law.

“This is clearly an attempt by Dominion to ignore the problem with its unlined coal ash ponds,” said Senior Attroney Deborah Murray. “We can’t pretend this ash does not exist. There is no legitimate reason for Dominion to have excluded this pond from its assessment, and the Department of Environmental Quality should require Dominion to remedy this omission immediately.”   

The Historic Pond is not only unlined, but portions of the ash lie six feet below sea level, sitting in and saturated by groundwater. A federal judge already ruled that Dominion is violating the Clean Water Act at Chesapeake Energy Center, since arsenic from the Historic Pond—as well as from another smaller pond and a landfill at the site—is flowing into the adjacent rivers.   

This new law, sponsored by State Senators Scott Surovell and Amanda Chase, was specifically enacted to help Virginia make an informed decision about closing these unlined leaking coal ash ponds.

“It is critical that Dominion be required to comply with Virginia law and the Coal Combustion Residuals Rule,” said SELC attorney Nate Benforado. “Dominion may not pick and choose the laws with which it will comply.”