Virginia lawmakers could push coal ash recycling opposed by Dominion
- Three Virginia lawmakers are developing legislation that could direct Dominion to recycle more of its coal ash waste at four storage ponds around the state, as opposed to burying it in place—which the utility said would be cheaper, faster and still safe, Inside Nova reports.
- Conservationists have opposed capping the storage ponds and leaving the coal waste in place, instead pressing for Dominion to provide more of it to concrete manufacturers for recycling into their products.
- However Dominion's report on coal ash options, published last month, finds recycling to be a costlier solution with a chance that concrete makers might not be able to take additional ash after 2019.
Virginia Sen. Scott Surovell (D) last year sponsored a bill calling for Dominion to do additional research on possible coal ash options. The utility still concluded capping the waste in place was the best option, but lawmakers are continuing to search for options.
Surovell, and two newly-elected Delegates, Jennifer Carroll Foy (D) and Lee Carter (D), each are planning to introduce legislation that would provide for more recycling.
But Dominion's assessment found "closure in place is the lowest risk for safety, community, schedule and cost and that closure in place is by far the most-common option being chosen by utilities across the country for ponds the same size as Dominion’s ponds."
Recycling the coal ash into concrete has issues, Dominion said.
"The supply of ash is likely to exceed demand starting in 2019," according to the report. And for three stations, "it could take longer to complete than allowed" and "prolongs the time to clean-up groundwater and extends the time for water treatment and releases."
"Recycling is generally more expensive than closure in place because the ash has to be excavated and processed before it can be recycled/reuse," Dominion concluded.
Southeast Energy News, however, reports concrete manufacturers believe they can take all of the ash Dominion will provide. All of the ash used to make concrete in Virginia is currently being imported from other states.
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