Toxic chemicals from power plant leak into quantico creek headlines gas stoichiometry calculator

The revelations came during a Dec. 8 DEQ hearing in Woodbridge for public input on a permit Dominion Virginia Power is requesting to “dewater” and clean up remaining coal-ash ponds at the power station, located on the peninsula between the Potomac River and Quantico Creek.

In response to questions about how DEQ is monitoring the toe drains and toxins the Potomac Riverkeeper Network alleges are present in Quantico Creek, Bryant said the state agency had not considered the drains a “compliance or enforcement” matter since at least the 1990s because they were initially deemed an “authorized discharge.”

“We have the information and certainly are considering it. We are evaluating it. But I would also point out that for us to make decisions, normally permitting decisions, the data have to be collected in certain ways, following certain procedures,” Thomas said. “I take the data as valid data but also there’s a lot of uncertainty associated with that.”

The State Water Control Board is scheduled to consider the permit application at its next meeting in January. If granted, the permit will allow Dominion to set up its own filtering system to scrub the water before it’s released, a process expected to take 40 to 60 days, Thomas said.

The Potomac Riverkeeper Network has retained the Southern Environmental Law Center and has issued an “intent to sue” Dominion for violating the Clean Water Act because of the toe drain and other seepage it has discovered from the Possum Point coal-ash ponds.

In the meantime, the organization is calling on DEQ to require that Dominion test residents’ drinking-water wells in the immediate area of the coal-ash ponds — not just at Dominion’s Possum Point power station but also near other Dominion plants slated for coal-ash cleanup around the commonwealth.

Naujoks said tests in North Carolina required of Duke Energy following the 2014 Dan River coal-ash spill found that 93 percent of resident groundwater wells within 1,000 feet of similar coal-ash ponds were contaminated with dangerous chemicals.

There are several separate issues here. "Dewatering" the coal ash ponds is necessary, no matter what steps are taken next. Treating the water from the coal ash ponds to remove heavy metals has and can be done without posing any risk to the environment. Exactly what, specifically, is the Potomac Riverkeeper concerned about and why? What alternative(s) is he proposing?

Capping the coal ash ponds to prevent rainwater from reaching the coal ash (and eventually possibly also leaching down into the groundwater, taking heavy metals with it) has also been done successfully, at least in the short term. I’m more concerned that there isn’t a significant long-term track record. It may or may not be satisfactory. I also have to ask, do we want this coal ash to remain here for all eternity? It really does make a lot of sense to remove it to a lined disposal site away from our riverfronts.

It also should be noted that the contaminated drinking water wells in North Carolina have not yet been linked directly to the Duke Energy coal ash ponds, although that is likely. Further, they are closer to the coal ash ponds, and in direct contact with the same groundwater, than any other known drinking water wells near any other coal ash pond site. Possum Point does not seem to have the same situation. Just because a problem exists in one place, it should not be assumed that it exists in all places.

Speaking as someone who lives in the Potomac Riverkeeper‘s former rivershed, I’m so glad that he’s now someone else’s problem. Be warned that he’s not the most reliable of sources, nor the most thoughtful of environmentalists, and he always uses alarmist rhetoric. It’s not a stretch to think of him as "the Donald Trump of Rivereepers". 🙂