- Dominion Virginia Power went to trial Tuesday in a federal lawsuit from the Sierra Club for violations of the Clean Water Act, according to the AP.
- The Sierra Club is suing the utility for discharges of arsenic and other toxic substances into groundwater from the 3 million tons of coal ash it has piled on the banks of the Elizabeth River in Chesapeake.
- The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality earlier this month issued draft permits to the utility that would allow it to move forward with "cap and place" plans, but the lawsuit could prevent the plans from moving forward, according to the Virginian Pilot.
Scientists at Duke University released the results of a study this month, pointing toward evidence that leakages from coal ash ponds were contaminating groundwater at fifteen sites in five Southeastern states, including Virginia.
The Southern Environmental Law Center, which funded that study, is also supporting Sierra Club's claim against Dominion Virginia Power. The groups say the utility discharged toxic substances from 3 million tons of coal ash into groundwater, thus violating the Clean Water Act, the AP reports.
The utility has said that it wants to keep ash in place, but would cap the storage facilities and add no new ash. It insists that the claims that ash migrating into the river are unfounded, claiming that its corrective action plan has already resulted in declining arsenic levels in groundwater.
In a brief filed last week, Dominion said that it had 73 samples of surface water taken near the site over the past 13 years which maintained arsenic concentrations below state and federal standards.
Still, the SELC says that the ash needs to be moved to lined ash landfills because substances leaching from it represent a threat to residents. It and the Sierra Club are asking that Dominion be ordered to remove ash near Chesapeake Energy Center; the trial began on Tuesday and is expected to last into the upcoming week.