- A new document filed in an ongoing federal lawsuit between Sierra Club and Dominion Virginia Power says that more than 3 million tons of coal ash are stored at the Chesapeake Energy Center — well above the previous estimate of 1 million tons, the Virginian-Pilot reports.
- When the Sierra Club first filed its lawsuit last year, the group was unsure how much ash existed, only citing Dominion's estimate of 1 million tons.
- Dominon disclosed the actual tally in response to written questions from the Sierra Club for the lawsuit. Sierra Club wants Dominon to excavate all the ash from one of the sites situated in the Elizabeth River and move it to a lined landfill, alleging that toxic substances from the ash are leaching into groundwater and migrating into the river, which would be a violation of the federal Clean Water Act.
Coal ash issues continue to plague the Southeast, and the latest numbers in the court fight between Dominion and the Sierra Club highlight how tricky it can be to estimate the impacts of coal ash waste from power plants.
Initially, the Sierra Club said they knew of three locations where Dominion stored coal ash at the Chesapeake Energy Center: a former pond, a landfill and an active pond near the southend of the site, the Virginian-Pilot reports. In their initial citation, Sierra Club's lawyers from the Southern Environmental Law Center estimated total coal ash waste at about 1 million tons stored at the landfill.
Dominion revised their numbers, with the latest numbers coming to 2.1 million tons in the inactive pond area, 1.2 million tons at the landfill and 84,000 tons at the pond still in use.
Dominon has argued that the suit has no merit because the Clean Water Act doesn't cover groundwater and the suit is a "backdoor way" of challenging the utility's state permit for storing ash at that location. However, a judge dismissed its move to block the lawsuit from going forward. The suit comes as Dominion is seeking approval from the state's Department of Environmental Quality to permanently store ash at that location.
Dominion is also facing scrutiny after confirming it released some 33.7 million gallons of untreated water from a coal ash pond into Quantico Creek.