Thursday 19 October 2017

Potomac Riverkeeper Dean Naujoks also had asked the EPA to investigate discharges from the power plant’s impoundments, which he contends occurred with little oversight from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.

“Elected officials getting involved is helpful in terms of bringing credibility to the issue,” said Naujoks. “The more EPA gets pressured to look into it, the more likely it is they’ll do it.”

The plant’s impoundments, where coal-burning byproducts have been stored for decades, have been scrutinized and subject to legal challenges in recent months after the state agency granted Dominion a permit to discharge water from lagoons containing coal ash.

Two of those appeals were dropped this week when Dominion agreed to treat water being discharged from the impoundments to a higher degree than the DEQ permits require.

But the Potomac Riverkeeper Network and the state of Maryland are still pressing their appeals that the permit for Possum Point does not go far enough to protect local water quality.

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(Published in Bay Journal, March 11, 2016)

In a unanimous 100-page opinion, the Court of Appeals on Friday dismissed complaints by several environmental groups that stormwater pollution discharge permits issued by the state were not sufficiently stringent and had been drafted without adequate public input.

The groups — including Waterkeepers Chesapeake and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation — had gone to court to challenge stormwater permits given by the Maryland Department of the Environment to Baltimore city and Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Prince George’s and Montgomery counties. 

A Montgomery County Circuit Court judge had sided with the challengers, ordering the state to revise its permit for that county. But judges in the other jurisdictions had deferred to the state agency.

The environmental groups still have one appeal pending over their complaint that Baltimore city, in particular, was not required to do enough to root out illicit discharges into its storm sewers. Betsy Nicholas, executive director of Waterkeepers Chesapeake, said the groups would decide whether to pursue that case in light of the appeals court’s ruling on the others.

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(Published in Bay Journal, March 11, 2016)

Maryland regulators are targeting Possum Point because it is located only a couple hundred feet from the Virginia-Maryland border along the Potomac River. That means its waste disposal will affect both states.

Members at the grassroots environmental group Potomac Riverkeeper Network filed an appeal of the Possum Point permit on Feb. 26.

"The multiple appeals from environmentalists, and state and local governments, forced Dominion to come to the table. That by itself speaks volumes about the DEQ lax permit," Dean Naujoks from Potomac Riverkeeper Network said in a statement on Wednesday. Naujoks said his group, however, would continue its appeal, pushing the company to embrace even stricter disposal standards.

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(Published in Inside Climate News, March 10, 2016)