Jan 30, 2019

Virginia Governor Announces Plans to Cleanup Coal Ash

The agreement between Virginia and Dominion Energy will protect groundwater from contamination

Virginia plans to cleanup coal ash pits and protect groundwater
Virginia plans to cleanup coal ash pits and protect groundwater

Updated 1/13/20

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced an agreement with Dominion Energy to recycle or store in lined landfilled 27 million cu yards of coal ash currently stored at four unlined sites across the state. The agreement promises to protect Virginia water resources from potential leaks of coal ash contaminants into water resources. It marks a landmark change following years of Dominion arguing that placing a cover on the coal ash ponds was the most safe and economical option to dealing with the toxic waste.

The plan will cost the average residential customer no more than $5 a month and the annual cleanup costs will be capped at $225 million, reported the Associated Press. In a brief statement, the energy producer stated that it supported the agreement, but did not comment as to why their stance changed. The cleanup plan is being hailed as a win by environmentalists.

“Dominion is stepping out in front and that’s encouraging, but Dominion is just one of many,” said Lisa Evans, senior counsel with the environmental group Earthjustice.

According to the Associated Press, an Obama-era EPA mandate revealed widespread evidence of groundwater contamination at coal ash plants, including arsenic and radium contamination. A 2014 spill at a Duke Energy Plant in North Carolina brought attention to the issue.

“We can’t afford an environmental disaster in Virginia like the one North Carolina,” said Northam.