Press Release | February 9, 2016

Conservation groups outraged that Dominion dumped over 30M gallons of toxic coal ash wastewater

Charlottesville, VA- In June 2015 Potomac Riverkeeper Network took aerial photographs revealing the unexpected draining of coal ash wastewater from “Pond E” at Dominion’s Possum Point Power Plant. Dominion’s own records indicate that the coal ash wastewater in Pond E was contaminated with cadmium and other toxic metals and had been leaking into groundwater for over three decades without any action by DEQ or Dominion. Therefore, Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) and Potomac Riverkeeper Network raised concerns that the toxic wastewater had been dumped into Quantico Creek, a tributary of the Potomac River.

SELC asked David Paylor, director of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, to explain the empty pond. Paylor responded in an email: “We know that water was moved between ponds but our best information is that no water was discharged to state waters.”  

Recently, the Potomac Riverkeeper Network uncovered a consultant’s report from August 2015 that referenced, in part: “surface water stored in Pond E that was discharged into Quantico Creek in May 2015.”

In recent weeks, SELC and the Potomac Riverkeeper Network have been unable to determine how much coal-ash wastewater was discharged into Quantico Creek or at what point Dominion reported this dumping to DEQ. Today, posted a story that revealed the discharge was nearly 34 million gallons, which is roughly two-thirds of the water previously held in the pond. The information in the story was attributed to Dominion officials. No one from DEQ had previously answered our direct questions about the volume of the discharge.

“We are outraged that Dominion dumped 34 million gallons of untreated coal ash wastewater into a tributary of the Potomac River,” said Potomac Riverkeeper Dean Naujoks. “We are even more outraged that DEQ let this happen, and we want a full investigation.”

“The dumping of wastewater from Pond E is another chapter in a decades-long story of neglect and mismanagement of the toxic coal ash ponds at Possum Point,” said SELC attorney Greg Buppert. “It is time that DEQ insist on a responsible solution for this industrial waste that keeps it out of Virginia rivers.”

*Click here to download overhead images of Possum Point coal ash ponds.

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