Settlement Gives Utility The Go-Ahead To Dump Coal Ash Wastewater Into Virginia Rivers

A utility company that will legally dispose of coal ash water in two Virginia waterways agreed to treat waste going into the James River to a more stringent standard than the state required, though legal appeals to the controversial plan remain.

The settlement agreement between Dominion Virginia Power and the James River Association comes a day after the company reached a similar deal with Prince William County regarding Quantico Creek, a tributary of the Potomac River located within its borders. Quantico Creek and James River will start receiving discharges as early as April.

Two months ago, the Virginia Water Control Board issued permits allowing Dominion to drain coal ash water into Quantico Creek and the James River in southeastern Virginia, as Dominion follows an EPA mandate to close its coal ash ponds. That entails treating and draining the less-polluted top water from coal ash ponds at the Possum Point power plant by Quantico Creek, and the Bremo Bluff power plant by the James River. In total, Dominion will close 11 coal ash ponds across the state.

Environmentalists have noted that similar permits in North Carolina, which suffered a massive coal ash spill in 2014, are much more stringent and point to the industry’s capacity to do better.

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