Virginia LCV Education Fund Responds to Dominion’s Coal Ash Assessments, Calls for More Stringent Protections

For Immediate Release:
Friday, Dec. 1, 2017

Lee Francis | Communications Manager
Virginia League of Conservation Voters Education Fund
(804) 225-1902 |

RICHMOND – Today, Dominion Energy released site-by-site assessments of its coal ash impoundments, as required by legislation from the 2017 General Assembly that also prevented final closure of these facilities until May 2018. The lengthy report essentially attempts to validate Dominion’s earlier plans to cap coal ash waste in place at multiple sites in Virginia.

Coal ash, the toxic byproduct of burning coal to general electricity, contains harmful chemicals known to cause cancer and other severe health problems. Currently, caches of this carcinogenic material are being stored in Virginia on the banks of the James River, Elizabeth River, and a main tributary to the Potomac River. In some cases, this waste is being stored in unlined pits that predate environmental regulations, which can leach harmful waste into waters we depend on as drinking sources and for recreational purposes.

“Virginia LCV remains committed to ensuring the safest possible outcome for clean water and public health during the closure process, and chief among our legislative priorities heading into the 2018 General Assembly is fighting for strong solutions to this toxic threat,” said Trieste Lockwood, government affairs manager for the Virginia LCV Education Fund. “We don’t get a second chance to do this the right way, and the risks to waterways and our economy could be catastrophic if we get it wrong. This is why legislators asked for more information in 2017 and why they should support the best possible solutions to Virginia’s coal ash problem in 2018.”

Following massive environmental disasters in Tennessee (2008) and across the Virginia border in North Carolina (2014), where coal ponds failed, sending millions of gallons of coal ash slurry into nearby waterways, the Environmental Protection Agency in 2015 required utilities to begin draining and closing these facilities. EPA, however, gave utilities a range of options to do so, including a “cap-in-place” approach, which allows utilities to bury coal ash waste in place, an approach that doesn’t fully remove this toxic threat to clean water but one clearly sought by Dominion Energy.