Monday, November 30, 2015

Possum Point Coal Ash Public Comment

Public comment on coal ash disposal on Possum Point in Prince William County is open through mid-December.  The time to make your voice heard is right now.  

In 1948, Dominion Virginia Power opened the 650-acre Possum Point Power Station located on the Potomac River near Quantico and Dumfries, Virginia.  Through 2003, Dominion deposited approximately 3.7 million cubic yards of coal ash - the byproduct of burning coal - into five different ponds near the Potomac River (Ponds A-E) - equal to a layer of about one foot of ash spread over 1,800 football fields.  Dominion describes the history here:

Given their age, the ponds were not built to modern standards and only one has any amount of "lining" (and the amount of lining in that pond is debatable).

Coal ash is well-known to leach lead, mercury, selenium, chlorine, arsenic, boron, hexavalent chromium and other heavy metals.  Experience at other sites has found heavy metals leeching into groundwater. 

There have been two well-known coal ash spills in American history.  First, a 2008 dam breach in Kingston, Tennessee resulted in the 5.4 million cubic yards being dumped into the Emory and Clinch Rivers.  Second, in February, 2014, a pipe in a coal ash pond ruptured and 39,000 tons of coal ash spilled into the Dan River which flows into Virginia.  Duke Power was fined $102 million and people still can't drink water from the river. 

At Possum Point, Dominion Virginia Power has moved all of the coal ash and water from Ponds A, B, C, and E into Pond D.  First, they are seeking to pump 172 million gallons of water covering the coal ash to be treated and then pumped into a creek that feeds into Quantico Creek and the Potomac River.  You can read Dominion's official submissions here:

Last this winter, Dominion will be seek second solid waste permit to place a synthetic cap on top of the remaining coal ash, cover it with dirt, and then plant vegetation on top.  

You can provide public comments on this in two ways.  First, I have created a short online survey where you can provide your opinion and comments at the end.  All comments will be forwarded to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.  You can complete it here:

Second, there is a public hearing where DEQ is accepting public comments.

Public Hearing on Water Permit
Wednesday, December 8, 2015, 7:00 p.m.
Virginia Department of Environmental Quality
Woodbridge Office
13901 Crown Court
Woodbridge, VA 22193

Please make your opinion known during this process.  The decisions made in these hearings will determine the status of this site for at least the next fifty years.

I've written a few posts regarding the developing situation and there has also been increasing media attention on the issue.

1 comment:

  1. They need to test the wells of homes in the area...wondering if we have been drinking contaminated wster....dominion needs to hook those up to city water and bear the cost