- Dominion Virginia Power confirmed to InsideNoVa.com that it released 33.7 million gallons of untreated water from a coal ash pond into Quantico Creek. Environmental advocates are now calling for an investigation into whether the utility had authorization to do so.
- The news site reports state regulators are looking into the drainage to determine if it complies with Dominion's Virginia Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit.
- The utility in January indicated that drainage was stormwater from the top of the pond, rather than water that had commingled with coal ash.
Controversy over how utilities manage coal ash water is spreading, with Virginia the latest state to experience debates over how the waste is treated.
Virginia utility Dominion is undergoing scrutiny over how it plans to treat more than 200 million gallons of coal ash water, especially since the utility revealed to the news outlet that it released more than 33 million gallons of untreated coal ash water into Quantico Creek.
It is not clear whether or not the 33.7 million gallon drainage represents a violation of its permit. The disclosure came as the state's Department of Environmental Quality prepared to present to Prince William Board of Supervisors how Dominion will treat and drain 200 million additional gallons of coal ash water into Quantico Creek.
The utility is working to close 11 coal ash ponds at four power plants in the state, but at least one group, Potomac Riverkeeper Network, has indicated it will challenge the plan.
Potomac Riverkeeper Dean Naujoks said the group wants the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to investigate the drainage.
“We are demanding an EPA investigation,” Naujoks told InsideNoVa. “The head of [Department of Environmental Quality] misled the public about dumping 30 million gallons of contaminated, untreated coal-ash water into Quantico Creek and the Potomac River. We feel the permit needs to be revoked based on this new information.”
According to Naujoks, a flyover last June showed lighting, pipe and pumping equipment. The inference drawn was that the pond was being drained at night.
Dominion's coal ash ponds have been troubling for the utility. A U.S. District Court last year rejected the utility's bid to dismiss a Sierra Club lawsuit for alleged violations of the federal Clean Water Act and a state permit. The suit claims that arsenic and other pollutants are migrating from coal ash stored at its shuttered Chesapeake Energy Center into the Elizabeth River.