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Avoiding an environmental disaster

Posted on Tuesday, January 29, 2019 at 2:52 pm

Potomac River Fisheries Commission played host to the Potomac RiverKeepers last week prior to the historic decision by the Virginia legislature to force Dominion Energy to clean up their coal ash ponds in the Commonwealth.

Dean Naujoks of the RiverKeepers presented a lecture showing the harm that coal ash, and the leakage from it, can cause to the waterways. With some of Dominion Energy’s coal ash containment ponds being in the Cheasepeake WaterShed area, the worry of contamination was even greater.

In a bipartison effort however Virginia’s House of Delegates and Senate are working toward a $3 billion plan that would require Dominion to recycle a portion of the coal ash and remove the rest to lined retaining areas.

Four of the coal ash ponds would be required to be completely excavated within the next 15 years. Dominion currently has more than 11 coal ash ponds and six coal ash landfills in the Commonwealth. Combined they hold more than 27 million cubic yards of the ash.

Coal ash is a byproduct of turning coal, via fire, into electricity. It can contain heavy metals and toxic chemicals from lead to mercury and arsenic. In some cases these chemicals have made their way into the surrounding groundwater.

Dominion’s original plan was to cap the coal ash ponds and landfills which could leave them vulnerable to leaching into the surrounding areas. The cost for that would have been lesser than the what is likely to be required.

For the full article, pick up the latest Westmoreland News 1/30/19