As a follow up to my reporting yesterday… Dominion Virginia Power may have settled disagreements with some foes of its coal-ash disposal plans, but it still will have the state of Maryland to contend with. Prince William County withdrew its appeal of the wastewater discharge permit from Dominion’s Possum Point power station in exchange for assurances that include a promise to test discharges hourly instead of three times a week. But neither the state of Maryland nor the Potomac Riverkeeper Network have indicated any interest in withdrawing their appeals.
“At this point, we are continuing our review of the contested permit,” said Ben Grumbles, Maryland’s secretary of the environment, in a statement Wednesday reported by the Washington Post. He said the state was also looking “for opportunities with Virginia to ensure wastewater and waste pits at Possum Point are managed for effective, long-term protection of the Potomac.”
Dean Naujoks, an environmentalist with the Potomac Riverkeeper Network, described Dominion’s concessions to Prince William County as evidence of the failure of [the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality] and their permitting process, which clearly was not adequate enough to protect water quality.”
Stewart said the public pressure placed on Dominion and state regulators for making the deal possible. “We used the bully pulpit. We used public pressure and humiliation to get them to comply,” he told the Post. “Now we can assure the public that this dewatering process will be absolutely safe.” Another concession he won was the securing of $50,000 from Dominion to pay for a consultant to monitor the company’s permit process.
It is not clear from the Washington Post article what additional measures either the state of Maryland or the Potomac Riverkeepers would like to see put into place.
Update: This statement issued yesterday explains why Potomac Riverkeepers and the Southern Environmental Law Center are sticking with their appeal:
Critically, the settlement agreements announced yesterday and today only address treatment of polluted water on top of the coal ash. The agreements say nothing about management of the underlying coal ash itself. Dominion’s own records show the coal-ash pits at Possum Point have been leaking toxins into the groundwater and public waterways for more than 30 years.
Even with these agreements, Dominion is still planning to leave the coal ash in pits along the banks of the Potomac River, as well as its coal ash sites throughout Virginia — even as utilities in North and South Carolina commit to removing coal ash to safer dry, lined landfills away from waterways.
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