Power generating utilities in the James River watershed have coal ash ponds capable of holding five billion gallons of coal ash. These are unlined earthen ponds, and they are leaking arsenic, lead and chromium among other toxins. Monitoring data collected by James River Association suggests that coal ash ponds at Chesterfield Power Station have been leaking for some time, with arsenic levels in soil measured at 400 times the level considered safe, according to EPA risk assessment criteria.
Virginia’s current solid waste permit procedure will allow these ponds to receive closure permits before contamination problems are fully investigated and addressed. This process would allow power generating companies to begin spending money on hastily developed “closure” plans that may not work, wasting money and wasting time, while these toxins continue to pollute our waters.
In order to find a long-term solution for these leaking coal ash ponds, problems must be well understood at the outset of the closure process. Senate Bill 1398 will require proper investigation and consideration of existing contamination problems, prior to permit approval and closing of ponds. The bill will also require a detailed investigation into closure options, such as excavation and removal and ash recycling options.
The Senate Natural Resources committee will hear Senate Bill 1398 tomorrow, February 2, 2017. We need your help in asking our legislators to protect the James!