Dominion Energy will host a virtual community meeting next Thursday, Jan. 20 to share information about closing its remaining coal ash pond at Possum Point Power Station, a former coal-fired power plant that borders the Potomac River near Dumfries.
Under a law signed by Gov. Ralph Northam in 2019, Dominion Energy must dispose of about 5 million tons of toxic coal ash that remains outside the Dumfries power plant no later than 2034. The power company must either recycle the ash or move it to a lined landfill either on- or off-site.
Dominion has already consolidated the ash from four of its former coal ash ponds at Possum Point into one pond located farther from the shore of the Potomac River. But the remaining pond, “Pond D,” lacks the synthetic barrier the new law requires of landfills accepting coal ash in Virginia.
Coal ash, the byproduct of burning coal to make electricity, is composed of lead, mercury, cobalt, arsenic, hexavalent chromium and other heavy metals, many of which are carcinogens. The Possum Point plant burned coal until about 2003 but now burns natural gas.
Dominion Energy will discuss potential closure options for Pond D and review the short- and long-term effects of each option on surrounding communities, including transportation, environmental considerations and project duration, according to a Dominion Energy press release.
“We've got to get started in a planning phase and figuring out what we're going to do with it, and we're working with the community to develop the most cost-effective and safest method for disposing of the coal ash,” Dominion Energy spokesperson Peggy Fox said in Thursday, Jan. 13 interview.
In January 2021, Dominion spokesman Jeremy Slayton said the company was evaluating both landfill and recycling options at Possum Point. He said the utility hadn’t ruled out the possibility of transporting the ash away from the site, but said it isn’t possible to haul the ash on local roads.
“We don’t see trucking it off site as a possibility. If we took it out, it would have to be rail or barge,” Slayton said at the time. “If [we built] an onsite landfill, we could contain it pretty much onsite, but we are still evaluating that.”
Supervisor Andrea Bailey, D-Potomac, posted a notice on her website Jan. 12 about the upcoming Jan. 20 meeting. Bailey’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The virtual meeting is set to begin at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 20. To participate via a mobile device, tablet or computer:
Download the Cisco WebEx Meetings app or go to https://dominionenergy.webex.com
Enter the meeting ID: 2331 690 6044
Enter your name, email and the event password: Dominion2022
If calling in by phone:
Dial in toll-free at 1-855-282-6330
Enter the access code: 2331 690 6044
Those unable to participate in the meeting can submit a comment, question or concern via email to Brendon.E.Shaw@DominionEnergy.com with the subject line “Possum Point CCR.”