Thursday 17 August 2017

Press Statement: James River Association Objects to Draft Permit to Dewater Coal Ash Ponds at Dominion’s Chesterfield Power Station

Richmond (July 22, 2016): Yesterday, the James River Association (JRA) joined with the Southern Environmental Law Center and citizens from across the watershed to express concerns to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) over the terms of a draft permit to dewater coal ash ponds at Dominion’s Chesterfield Power Station on the James River. JRA believes that the draft permit falls short in adequately protecting the river, the species that rely on it and the citizens that live within its watershed.

The dewatering process is the first step in closing the coal ash ponds at Chesterfield, which hold over 280 million gallons of wastewater. “We must ensure that all wastewater is treated to meet water quality standards prior to discharge into the river,” said Jamie Brunkow, Lower James Riverkeeper for James River Association. Pollution limits in the draft permit are currently not protective of public health and aquatic life – including the federally endangered Atlantic sturgeon. The draft permit relies on a mixing zone to dilute wastewater, which includes harmful levels of metals such as arsenic, lead or chromium. The permit also allows Dominion to discharge cooling water at excessively hot temperatures – as high as 129 o F according to Dominion’s discharge monitoring reports.Dominion Power Plant

Chesterfield Power Station is adjacent to a portion of the James River where federally endangered Atlantic sturgeon are known to spawn. “The combined effects of toxic pollution and hot water discharge at Chesterfield Power Station pose serious threats to sturgeon and other aquatic life,” said Brunkow.

Last fall, two Atlantic sturgeon larvae were collected near the power station during a study conducted by the utility. The presence of the freshly hatched sturgeon further suggests that spawning is taking 

“We urge DEQ to amend this permit to treat coal ash wastewater to safe limits, and to address the long overdue problem of thermal pollution from this facility,” Brunkow said. The James River Association, in partnership with the Southern Environmental Law Center submitted formal comments to DEQ that are also posted on JRA’s website.


ABOUT THE JAMES RIVER ASSOCIATION: The James River Association (JRA) is a member-supported nonprofit organization founded in 1976 to serve as a guardian and voice for the James River. Throughout the James River’s 10,000-square mile watershed, JRA works through core programs – Education, Community Conservation, Watershed Restoration, River Advocacy and the Riverkeeper Program – to help people of all ages enjoy, appreciate and protect the beauty and health of the James River for future generations to enjoy. For more information on JRA visit

Do You Know Where Your Fruit’s Been?

By Betsy Nicholas, July 22, 2016, The Baltimore Sun

A plump, juicy peach; an ear of crisp sweet corn; a ruby red tomato just picked from the vine — summer produce abounds on Maryland dining room tables this time of year. Fresh fruits and vegetables are important parts of our diets and an important part of our Maryland heritage. But do you know where your produce comes from?

Federal regulators are in place to regulate. We are disheartened that, regarding the Cove Point Liquefied Natural Gas export facility in Lusby, MD, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) not only arrived at a “Finding of No Significant Impact,” but that the D.C. Circuit Court upheld that decision in a recent ruling. FERC had an obligation to protect the residents of Maryland and people who live in the Chesapeake Bay region.

Waterkeepers Chesapeake is committed to protecting water quality throughout the watershed, whether it be from energy interests that include hydraulic fracturing or “fracking,” or other extraction industries that pollute our most precious natural resource: water.

For more information on the case, please visit our Waterkeepers Chesapeake blog.

Court's Opinion