Thursday 17 August 2017

DEQ issues draft permit for coal ash water drainage in Chesterfield

By JOHN RAMSEY 5755f0fe875fa.image

The state Department of Environmental Quality on Monday released the first draft of a permit that will regulate how coal ash ponds are drained at the Chesterfield Power Station.

The permit, one of four Dominion Virginia Power needs to comply with federal rules requiring the closure of coal ash ponds, will allow the company to drain up to 5 million gallons of treated ash pond water daily into the James River.

“We’re very pleased to see that made it in there. It sort of sets a new benchmark for permits like this that are coming out, so that’s great news,” said Jamie Brunkow, the association’s Lower James Riverkeeper. “I think we want to build on that. ... We’re going to be digging into that over the next few weeks to provide substantive comments.”


(Published June 6, 2016, Richmond Times-Dispatch)


Poorly planned and weakly enforced infrastructure repairs have created a vicious cycle.

David Flores, the Baltimore Harbor Waterkeeper with Blue Water Baltimore, says that federal and state regulators have not diligently enforced the consent decree to keep the city on track. “The city set out to undertake all of this stuff over 14 years ago, and they didn't do it,” he says. “The regulators didn’t hold the city accountable, and as early as 2013, they were working to extend the timeline.“

Read more:, May 31, 2016


Congratulations to the Gunpowder Riverkeeper Theaux Gardeur for ensuring that Columbia Gas Transmission, LLC will conduct fish sampling required by a recent settlement agreement. 

On March 16th, the Circuit Court for Baltimore County entered a settlement resolving litigation among the Gunpowder Riverkeeper, Columbia, and the Maryland Department of the Environment over a 21 mile natural gas pipeline that Columbia is constructing from Baltimore County to Harford County.  The pipeline will cross 81 streams that collectively provide drinking water to approximately 1.8 million residents in the Baltimore area and support sensitive trout species. 

As part of the settlement, Columbia agreed to conduct fish sampling at five streams before they are crossed by the pipeline.  A primary purpose of this “before” sampling is to provide baseline data that will allow the Riverkeeper and the public to more precisely understand the water quality impacts that result from the construction activities. 

Columbia obtained a permit from the Department of Natural Resources to conduct the sampling, but standard DNR protocol requires this type of work to occur after June 1.  Not wanting to delay their construction project by approximately 30 days, Columbia asked the Gunpowder Riverkeeper to agree to waive the sampling requirement. 

The Riverkeeper said no, and filed an emergency motion with the court to enforce the settlement.  In response to that motion, Columbia agreed to alter its construction schedule and to perform the sampling.

The Gunpowder Riverkeeper’s refusal to back down ensures that important data will be gathered, and it sends a clear message to Columbia that it will be held accountable for fulfilling all its settlement obligations. 

Chesapeake Legal Alliance volunteer attorneys Ross Phillips and William Anderson assisted the Gunpowder Riverkeeper with this matter.