Health / Local

River protection group challenges coal ash water discharge

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The Potomac Riverkeeper Network filed a legal challenge Friday to reverse state environmental officials’ approval of a permit allowing the discharge of millions of gallons of treated coal ash wastewater into Quantico Creek and the Potomac River.

The lawsuit filed by the Southern Environmental Law Center names the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, which issued the discharge permit to Dominion Virginia Power. The release involves the so-called dewatering of coal ash impoundments at Dominion’s Possum Point Power Station.

The action filed in Richmond Circuit Court argues that the DEQ and its Water Control Board modified a permit in a way that violates the federal Clean Water Act. In its complaint, the SELC said the release of the wastewater containing heavy metals could impair the spawning of striped bass and other aquatic life.

The lawsuit seeks to void the permit so the DEQ can “redress the errors.”

In an email, DEQ spokesman Bill Hayden wrote, “We have no comment.”

Dominion has said in the past the permit is “appropriate, properly issued and consistent with federal and state regulations.”

The power company has also announced plans to discharge treated coal ash waste- and stormwater at Bremo Power Station in Fluvanna County. The dewatering is one step in the process of the closure of coal ash impoundments around the state.

Coal ash is the potentially toxic legacy of decades of coal-fired energy.

SELC has already signaled its intent to file a similar challenge involving Bremo. That filing is expected next week.
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