Dominion to close all coal ash ponds in Virginia

DOMINION Virginia Power will close all of the ash ponds at its Virginia power stations in compliance with standards established by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) coal combustion residuals rules.

Lou Caruana

The company will close ponds at four locations in Virginia: Bremo Power Station in Fluvanna County, Chesapeake Energy Center in Chesapeake, Chesterfield Power Station in Chesterfield County, and Possum Point Power Station in Prince William County.

Coal ash is the remainder left after coal is burned to generate electricity. In recent years, Dominion has closed or converted to cleaner fuel five coal-fired power stations serving Virginia. Nearly two-thirds of the electricity produced by Dominion's generation serving the state now comes from carbon-free nuclear generation, clean-burning natural gas and renewables.

The company no longer uses coal as a fuel at its Bremo, Chesapeake and Possum Point power stations.

Dominion chief environmental officer and vice president of corporate compliance said: “The EPA rules were just finalised, and we have been working on plans based on the proposed rule in order to be prepared.

“We are working with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and other state agencies to develop closure plans that are in compliance with the new rules.”

Under the EPA rules, fly ash has been determined to be a non-hazardous material.

Once Dominion has obtained the needed permits from DEQ, other agencies and local jurisdictions, the company will begin the actual closure work.

In general, the ponds that are being closed will be drained and covered by a rugged, impermeable liner, then topped with 24 inches (61cm) of soil. Either grass or sod will be planted on top of the soil. The specifics of the closure plan will be determined by DEQ.

Closing the ponds in this manner complies with federal standards set by the EPA.

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