Environmental groups sue Dominion Virginia for coal ash leaks
- The Southern Environmental Law Center filed a lawsuit last week against Dominion Virginia Power on behalf of the Sierra Club, alleging coal ash from storage ponds at the utility’s retired coal power plant, the Chesapeake Energy Center, are leaking arsenic and other chemicals into groundwater and the Elizabeth River.
- Dominion Virginia denied any Clean Water Act violations from the nearly 975,000 tons of coal ash in the landfill built on an old unlined ash pond at the shuttered 1950s-era power plant. The environmentalists warned last December they would bring the suit if the violations weren’t rectified.
- The utility said it has worked closely with all appropriate federal and state environmental compliance agencies. The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality said it is working on a plan to cap and cover the ash ponds.
North Carolina regulators just fined Duke Energy Progress over $25 million for multiple coal ash contaminants leaching into groundwater at its Sutton Plant over several years. The fine — North Carolina’s biggest ever for environmental violations — was determined by multiplying the daily penalty by the number of days constituents exceeded groundwater quality standards.
Duke said last month it is preparing to pay a $100 million fine for its coal ash spill into North Carolina's Dan River. The state Department of Environment and Natural Resources said groundwater violations at other Duke facilities may bring further fines.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ruling on the handling of coal ash, released in December, satisfied neither utilities nor environmentalists. It creates requirements and standards for the management of coal combustion residuals under Subtitle D of the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). Environmentalists rejected the ruling because it categorized coal ash as solid waste instead of hazardous waste. Utilities dislike it it because it is "self-implementing," potentially leaving them open to lawsuits like this one.
- The Virginian-Pilot Group sues Dominion over Chesapeake coal ash