Dominion (NYSE:D) affiliate Dominion Virginia Power and the James River Association, represented by the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC), have reached a settlement agreement on discharges of treated water from coal ash ponds at the company’s Bremo Power Station in Fluvanna County, Virginia.
Those discharges are regulated by a permit issued in January by the State Water Control Board and Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), requiring Dominion to build and operate a wastewater treatment system at the facility.
Under the settlement agreement, Dominion has committed to enhanced treatment of the pond water and to fish tissue monitoring, and the James River Association and SELC will not appeal the wastewater permit issued for the Bremo plant.
The terms of this agreement only apply to the wastewater permit at Bremo and do not apply to any other Dominion sites. Dominion announced the Bremo/James River agreement on March 9.
It was the second settlement agreement announced in two days by Dominion on coal ash cleanup and discharge issues in Virginia. The previous day Dominion had announced a settlement with the governing body of Prince William County over similar issues at the Possum Point power plant.
“We thank Dominion for engaging with us in a cooperative manner to address our concerns about the dewatering of Dominion’s coal ash ponds at the Bremo Power Station,” said James River Association CEO Bill Street. “Through our agreement today, Dominion will install enhanced treatment for the wastewater that is designed to better protect all uses of the James River.”
Importantly, Dominion must submit a plan that must be reviewed by the Virginia DEQ. Dominion has also committed to enhanced testing of fish in the James River throughout the dewatering project. The results of the testing will be made publicly available by both Dominion and DEQ.
“Dominion will always be committed to keeping the James River safe for fishing, boating, swimming and all the activities we Virginians love to do. We are pleased that this agreement with the James River Association allows us to move ahead with this important environmental project,” said Pam Faggert, chief environmental officer for Dominion. “The James River Association has helped us create a plan that reflects the commitment of both of our organizations to maintain the quality of the James River.”
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued its Coal Combustion Residual rules in the spring of 2015 calling for the closure of inactive ash ponds across the country. Dominion is closing 11 ash ponds at four power stations across the state. As part of closing the ash ponds at Bremo, Dominion must first remove water that has accumulated in the ponds.
SELC Senior Attorney Greg Buppert said it’s important to note that Dominion and the James River Association together agreed on tougher standards than were initially outlined in the permit issued by Virginia.
The mission of the James River Association is to be guardian of the James River. JRA provides a voice for the river and takes action to promote conservation and responsible stewardship of its natural resources.