The coal ash ponds at Possum Point
The coal ash ponds at Possum Point

The state of Maryland has dropped its appeal of permits granted to Dominion Virginia Power for discharging treated water from its Possum Point Power Station coal ash ponds into Quantico Creek and the Potomac River.

“Maryland is supportive of recent agreements in Virginia to increase wastewater treatment protections and monitoring protocols,” Ben Grumbles, Maryland’s secretary of the environment, said in a statement. “We are engaged in and encouraged by the ongoing discussions with Virginia and Dominion to do even more testing for fish tissue, water quality and sediment in the river beyond the current testing and monitoring in current or soon-to-be-proposed permits.”

Jay Apperson, a spokesman for the department, cited Dominion’s commitments to enhanced treatment of the water drawn from coal ash ponds and to specifications that meet or exceed Maryland’s water quality standards, reports the Richmond Times-Dispatch. He continued:

Moreover, Virginia DEQ has pledged to draft a stringent and comprehensive solid waste permit for the Dominion facility that incorporates all federal requirements. Virginia DEQ has further discussed its intent to engage Maryland during this permitting process as groundwater monitoring and surface water monitoring safeguards are included to protect Quantico Creek and the Potomac River.

The only group persisting in an appeal of the coal ash water-discharge permits is the Potomac Riverkeeper Network.

Bacon’s bottom line: The big remaining issue is how Dominion will dispose of the coal ash itself. Dominion has applied for permits to consolidate the material in capped pits on-site, asserting that the alternative preferred by environmentalists — trucking it to lined landfills — would cost $3 billion more. The statements from Maryland’s Department of the Environment suggests that Maryland has taken part in intensive, behind-the-scenes negotiations with Virginia DEQ, as Virginia regulators decide whether to grant the solid waste permits or not.


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10 responses to “Maryland Drops Coal Ash Appeal”

  1. LarrytheG Avatar

    you know – you’re adopting practices that are not good.

    why did you not entitle this instead:

    ” Dominion agrees to stricter Maryland Testing requirements”


    ” Maryland and Dominion agree to stricter testing”

    Maryland did not “drop” their appeal… Dominion agreed to stricter limits.

    shame on you!

    1. Gee, Larry, I hope you hold the Richmond Times-Dispatch and Washington Post to the same standards as me.

      RTD headline: “Md. ends court fight on Va. coal-ash permit”

      WaPo headline: “Maryland quits fight against Dominion plan to dump coal-ash water into Potomac”

    1. LarrytheG Avatar

      I had not see Peter’s article. It is excellent.

      In that article: “Dominion says that removing the coal ash from Chesterfield alone would require 235,000 truckloads and take years.”

      I just want to point out that virtually every coal plant gets it’s coal by rail via 100-car “unit” trains. Trucks are not needed.

      In the coal plant near Fredericksburg – they initially sent the coal ash away in trains to disposal sites. Later, when a landfill located next door – they landfilled it.

      Why can’t Dominion present this in an honest way to start with?

      Carrying the ash away in trains would obviously be the more cost-effective approach so now I’m wondering if their 3 billion dollar estimate is also just as bogus ……….. Is this the way it is – that nothing that Dominion says should be trusted from the get go? That’s not a way for a responsible corporation to act. No wonder they find themselves mired in continuing controversies and create hardened opponents rather than finding some reasonable compromises. They donj’t give an inch until and unless someone brings a hammer down on them.

  2. So, Larry, you think that Dominion is either too utterly stupid to have considered the rail alternative for disposing of coal ash or so perversely determined to befoul the environment that it is lying about the economics of coal ash disposal — even though all costs will be passed on to ratepayers and Dominion shareholders have nothing to gain by it.

    Even more remarkably, you assume that your muddled speculation is so plausible that you then state that “this is no way for a responsible corporation to act” and “no wonder they find themselves mired in continuing controversies.”

    There are legitimate issues to discuss here — the trade-offs between benefits to the environment and costs to ratepayers. Dominion lying about the cost of coal-ash disposal is not one of them. Even the environmental groups aren’t making that argument.

  3. LarrytheG Avatar

    No I don’t think Dominion is stupid at all.. but when they say billions in the same breath they do truckloads – why should I believe them unless they are going to be explicit?

    The ratepayers LEGITIMATELY OWN these costs – by the way.

    and how much is that cost on a per ratepayer basis – prorated out over years anyhow?

    The only thing “muddled” here is the dishonest way the issue is being presented – as a false “either – or” choice as well as your headline which implies that Maryland relented in their incidence of minimal standards being met.

    Why don’t you get the facts of the 3 billion to start with and how much it would pro-rate out to – to ratepayers – in other states… like NC and MD as well as Virginia rather than not being totally up front and honest about the facts?

    it’s not hard to find the facts: ” If that $4 billion were passed on to ratepayers, the average North Carolina household could see electricity prices rise by an average of about $18 a year over 25 years, according to a calculation by accountants for an independent state agency that represents consumers in rate proceedings.”

    A $1.50 a month to clean up coal ash and that’s something most would oppose? How would you actually KNOW if all that is ever said is 3 billion?

    how about getting some facts out ?

  4. If I had a nickel (5-cents) for every time I said let’s wait to see how Maryland input helps or hurts, I’d have at least 25 cents. I still have some reading to do (Peter’s article etc) but my initial feeling is, it sounds like Maryland has been constructive and helpful.

  5. LarrytheG Avatar

    Maryland was constructive and helpful from the beginning if Dominion had chosen to heed it and others ….

    Jim characterizes the issue as Maryland dropping the appeal – as if Maryland gave up rather that the reality which was Dominion finally had to yield – but not before they managed to throw their weight around and act like corporate dumbasses – not only on this issue; their behavior is illustrative of some bad boys who don’t want to work with others to find some common ground to move the issue forward.

    I’ll bet most Virginian taxpayers – who also happen to be ratepayers see the issue the same way they see the need for us to pay to dig up old gas station tanks or clean up the Chesapeake Bay or try to remediate the 17 or so superfund sites in Virginia that were direct legacies of shortsighted policies like coal ash disposal was.

    Dominion chooses to take this aggressive and belligerent stance on a number of these issues – because apparently it’s a matter of corporate manhood for them.

    In Md and NC and other states – they find their way to an agreeable path forward. In Virginia we got to have drama and knocking chips off shoulders.

  6. I don’t understand the ramifications of the RTD statement that the EPA is vacating it’s prior regulation that basically grandfathers inactive ponds:

    “…Environmental Protection Agency to lift certain provisions of its coal-ash facility closure regulations, addressed some of Maryland’s qualms with the permitting process. Initially, the EPA had said that impoundments that ceased to accept coal ash after April 17, 2018, would be deemed inactive and exempt from the more stringent closure requirements, including groundwater monitoring and “other corrective actions” required for “coal-combustion residuals” landfills, Apperson said. “EPA agreed to vacate this exception for inactive CCR landfills, and thus, all CCR landfills must comply with the federal requirements. …”

    So it sounds like EPA is taking back some of the leniency that they had originally given to the grandfathered sites. But wouldn’t that mean the ash needs to be excavated and disposed in lined landfills?

  7. Interesting coal ash law suit by Virginia Sierra Club and SELC against Dominion:

    In summary, I believe the EPA has said the coal ash can be capped in place. Sierra Club is saying that’s a violation of the Clean Water Act.

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