Critics counter coal ash assessment
- December 26, 2017
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Among the biggest problems with the nearly 900 page assessment, Sen.
"I had expected them to do a full assessment of the
The report, prepared for Dominion by global infrastructure and engineering firm
It was prompted by mounting calls from state and local elected officials and environmental groups, as well as people who live next to the ash ponds, to slow down Dominion's plans to cover the unlined pits with a liner and layer of turf, which they worried could allow them to leak a host of heavy metals, including arsenic, into waterways for decades to come.
New federal regulations requiring the closure of the ponds came in 2015 after catastrophic failures of ash impoundments in
In a letter this month to the
Dominion used three separate settling ponds on the small peninsula until the 1980s, said
"This is some of the most vulnerable stuff thata judge has already said is leaking arsenic into the river," Benforado said. "We can't pretend these 2.1 million tons don't exist. ... We really feel this is a glaring omission."
Surovell and Chase's bill required assessments for "coal combustion residuals surface impoundments."
"Without a doubt, the historic pond constitutes a 'coal combustion residuals surface impoundment,'" the letter argues. "By ignoring the historic pond, the 2.1 million tons of coal ash will serve as a perpetual source of arsenic flowing into the surrounding rivers."
Whether the Virginia DEQ feels the same way is unclear. The agency has faced criticism for failing to hold Dominion to higher standards as the utility rushed to close its ash ponds last year in response to the new federal regulations.
"Twice, we have urged DEQ to make clear to Dominion that the [federal coal combustion residuals rule] does apply to the unlined historic pond, apparently to no effect," the SELC wrote.
Dominion's report was also faulted for what critics said were overstated costs and timeframes to excavate ash away from waterways and deposit it in lined landfills and dismissal of potential methods to recycle the ash for use in concrete or other products.
Tests from environmental groups show Dominion's
Dominion faces a lawsuit there from several residents who claim metals from the ash ponds wound up their drinking water wells.
"Building a BEP brick manufacturing facility at
Among those, according to Belden: The report failed to acknowledge revenue for Dominion from marketable bricks and pavers that would be produced in its cost-benefit analysis, which Belden estimates at
The company also faults the report for what it says is inaccurate information on the markets the company would serve, how it would transport bricks or pavers and industry acceptance of products made from recycled ash.
"It's a valid recycling technology and we have a meeting next month," said Richardson, the Dominion spokesman, in response to Belden's letter. "We will meet with anyone who can provide valid recycling solutions with proven technologies. We want to avoid projects that would put Dominion at a risk for meeting compliance dead lines or be dependent on a market not guaranteed to exist."
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