Press Release | January 3, 2019

Virginia leaders introduce law to end Dominion’s coal ash pollution

RICHMOND, VA— Today, Governor Ralph Northam and Secretary of Natural Resources Matthew Strickler unveiled a bill with Senator Scott Surovell and Delegate Jennifer Carroll Foy, that would require Dominion to cleanup decades of coal ash pollution in a responsible, permanent, and cost-effective way.  For two years the General Assembly and the administration has carefully considered Dominion’s preferred approach: leaving the ash in leaking, primitive pits with a liner applied on top.  Today the administration and these legislators have rightfully acknowledged this is wrong for Virginia. The bill, called the Water Quality and Safety Act, would require Dominion to dig up the coal ash from its unlined or improperly lined impoundments in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, and either repurposing it as a needed supplement for cement or concrete, or placing it in modern, compositely-lined landfills.  Combining excavation with landfilling and recycling is a proven, commercially successful closure method, which would get toxic coal ash off the banks of Virginia’s iconic rivers, including the James, Potomac, and Elizabeth Rivers.

“We applaud these Senators and the Administration for taking a clear stand.  The data has clearly established that Dominion’s original approach will not work, and instead leave communities and drinking water resources at risk, especially as we are experiencing stronger and more frequent storms like Hurricane Florence,” said Nate Benforado, Attorney at Southern Environmental Law Center.  “Excavation with landfilling and recycling is working extremely well in neighboring states and offers a cost-effective, permanent solution for Virginia that also improves property values, creates better, longer-lasting jobs, generates tax revenue, and even fulfills a local manufacturing need.”


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.

Are you a reporter and would like more information? Please visit our press contact page for a full list of SELC’s press contacts.

Press Contacts

Nate Benforado

Senior Attorney