To block Dominion Virginia Powers state-approved plan to dump millions of gallons of treated water from coal ash ponds into Quantico Creek and the Potomac River, Environmental groups are heading to court.
The Southern Environmental Law Center has notified the state Department of Environmental Quality that it plans to challenge in circuit court the states decision to give the utility permission to remove water from its ash ponds at Possum Point Power Station by eventually draining them into the public bodies of water.
The SELC is acting on behalf of the Potomac Riverkeeper Network. The Prince William County Board of Supervisors is considering joining the appeal. Another appeal concerning the Bremo Power Stations ash ponds and the James River could come by next week.
Both the DEQ and Dominion Virginia Power have said the permits awarded to the utility last month include treatment standards for heavy metals that will keep the rivers safe for people and wildlife. But opponents who numbered in the hundreds during public debate of the permits argue that the states standards arent strict enough.
Coal ash the potentially toxic remnants from burning coal has been a controversial topic since a Duke Energy site in North Carolina last year spilled thousands of tons of the material into the Dan River, which flows into Virginia.
The permitted levels of arsenic, one of the cancer-causing metals present in coal ash, are many times higher than they would be if the state had applied a portion of the federal Clean Water Act requiring the water be treated to the best available technological standards, said Greg Buppert, a lawyer for the SELC. Other states, including North Carolina, have used the technology standards to be more stringent about the release of heavy metals.
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