Possum Point coal-ash ponds Dec. 2018

Dominion Energy's coal ash pond at Possum Point, dubbed "pond D," as photographed in December 2018.

Dominion Power is still evaluating plans for 4 million cubic yards of toxic coal ash stored at Possum Point power plant despite a new state law requiring the company to dispose of coal ash at four power plants located along major waterways in Virginia. 

Mark Mitchell, Dominion Energy's vice president of generation construction, presented an update to the Virginia Water Commission Monday that provided an estimated timeline for the removal of coal ash at three of the utility's four coal ash sites. But a timeline still hasn’t been determined for the ash at Possum Point, he said.

All of four of the plants that contain coal ash ponds are located adjacent to the state’s largest waterways: the Potomac, James and Elizabeth rivers.

Bipartisan legislation signed into law earlier this year requires the company to recycle at least 25% of its coal ash and remove the remainder to landfills lined with a synthetic barrier to prevent toxic metals from leaking into the ground and surface water.

Dominion spokesman Jeremy Slayton said the company was evaluating both landfill and recycling options at Possum Point and will issue a “request for proposal” for the beneficial recycling of coal ash at the site this month. 

“We want to get the results back from the beneficial reuse request for proposal before we make a decision,” Slayton said. 

The company hasn’t ruled out the possibility of transporting the ash away from the site, but Slayton 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. “If [we built] an onsite landfill, we could contain it pretty much onsite, but we are still evaluating that.”

Dominion has consolidated most of the ash from four of its Possum Point coal ash ponds into one pond located farther from the shore of the Potomac River, but that pond, “Pond D,” lacks the synthetic barrier the new law now 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 state law requiring the cleanup of Virginia’s coal ash passed with bi-partisan support in the General Assembly and was signed into law by Gov. Ralph Northam (D) in March. The law went into effect July 1. 

The new law allows Dominion Energy to spend up to $225 million a year on the cleanup effort, which would result in an extra charge of about $5 a month for the average ratepayer.

Under EPA regulations, Dominion Energy has 15 years to close the coal ash ponds.

Reach Daniel Berti at dberti@fauquier.com

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(2) comments


What fuels are used to produce electricity at Possum Point currently?


Pretty clear what's going to happen here: Dominion will leave the poisonous ash where it is with some half baked argument that it's too risky, too much trouble, too costly, the too's will go on infinitely. This is the first real test of the Democrats controlling the legislature and the governorship. BTW, Dominion created this mess but the rate payers, not the investors are paying for the "clean up" my guess is the General Assembly folds like a cheap suit and does what ever Dominion says it will do. Bet that the Dominion solution will not be in the best interest of the Commonwealth. If it's good for Dominion it's bad for Virginia.

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