The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) on Feb. 8 filed with the Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) its report listing recommendations for Virginia Electric and Power’s (Dominion Virginia Power) proposed Line #567 500-kV transmission line segment rebuild project “from Willcox Wharf to Windmill Point.”
As noted in the report, Dominion Virginia Power is proposing to rebuild four 500-kV structures within a segment of the right of way (ROW) of the approximately 44.4-mile, 500-kV transmission Line #567 (Chickahominy-Surry) that crosses the James River in Charles City and Prince Georges County.
Dominion proposes to remove the two existing “COR-TEN” anchor structures on land and the two lattice “COR-TEN” river structures in the James River and to replace them with two new galvanized anchor structures and two new galvanized lattice river structures.
The two new anchor structures are about 90 feet tall, which is about 15 feet taller than the existing anchor structures, while the two new river structures would be about 414 feet tall, excluding foundation heights, and are about the same height as the existing river structures, the DEQ added.
The DEQ said that its Piedmont Regional Office (PRO) found that the section of the James River at the power line crossing is impaired for fish consumption use due to the presence of polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) in fish tissue. Aquatic life is impaired due to low dissolved oxygen, low levels of submerged aquatic vegetation and benthic macroinvertebrates, as well as high concentrations of chlorophyll a in the summer months.
The DEQ-PRO recommended that Dominion Virginia Power use transformers with dielectric fluid that do not contain PCBs due to the fish advisory for PCBs on that section of the James River. That, the DEQ added, will prevent PCBs from entering the river should transformer fluid leach into the waterway. The DEQ-PRO also recommended that the company minimize the loss of concrete in wetlands and surface waters that contain fish habitat, since the lime in the concrete increases pH, which has the potential to cause fish kills, the DEQ said.
The DEQ Office of Wetlands and Stream Protection (DEQ-OWSP) recommended that all wetlands and stream crossings within the proposed project alignment be field delineated prior to detailed engineering, clearing activities, and construction. The DEQ added that structures should be sited to avoid wetlands to the extent practicable and should be sited outside of stream channels.
The DEQ-OWSP further recommended wetland and stream avoidance and minimization efforts, where practical, during project construction by, for instance, maintaining 100-foot buffers along either side of streams.
The DEQ added that among other recommendations, the DEQ-OWSP recommended that activities should be conducted in accordance with any time-of-year restriction(s) as recommended by the state Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF), the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), or the Virginia Marine Resources Commission.
The DCR Division of Natural Heritage (DCR DNH) confirmed that the agency’s Biotics Data System documents the presence of natural heritage resources within two miles of the project area, but due to the scope of the activity and the distance to the resources, the DCR does not anticipate that the project would adversely impact those natural heritage resources, the DEQ said.
The DCR also found that the proposed project would not affect any documented state-listed “threatened and endangered” plants or insects. The DEQ added that a recommendation calls for the company to contact the DCR DNH for updated information on natural heritage resources in the project area should the scope of the project change and/or six months passes before the project is implemented.
Among other things, the DEQ noted that the DGIF confirmed that the federally listed endangered Atlantic sturgeon has been documented from the James River and that that the river, at that site, has been designated an Anadromous Fish Use Area. The DGIF noted that instream work is not proposed for the project other than the possible installation of a boat ramp in the river at one of the proposed laydown areas. The DEQ added that the DGIF recommends that the company continue to coordinate with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries Service regarding potential impacts upon Atlantic sturgeon.
The DGIF also recommended, for instance, that the company adhere to a time-of-year restriction from Feb. 15 through June 15; block no more than 50% of the streamflow at any given time; and restore original streambed and streambank contours, the DEQ said.
Dominion Virginia Power is a subsidiary of Dominion Resources (NYSE:D).