Coal

Aerial photo of coal ash ponds
Aerial photo of Possum Point ponds by Alan Lehman of Potomac Riverkeeper Network

Under the Obama Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency adopted federal protections against the dangers posed by toxic coal ash. That rule requires closure of ash dumps in dangerous locations, inspection of ponds, and monitoring of groundwater near sites. It also requires closure of leaking ponds, cleanup of contamination, safe closure of dumps, and public display of test results. Under Scott Pruitt, the EPA proposed to weaken or eliminate the safeguards and protections against the dangers posed by ash. These changes put the health and well-being of communities on the Potomac, James, Susquehanna, Patuxent and many other rivers at risk.

States began to issue permits for the closure of leaking ponds located along the rivers in the DMV. In Virginia, several Dominion Energy power plants fought to “cap in place” the toxic ponds. Potomac Riverkeeper, James Riverkeeper and Waterkeepers Chesapeake organized impacted communities, legislators and other groups to fight this plan. In 2019, this hard fought campaign resulted in the Virginia Safe Disposal of Coal Ash bill (SB 1355) being passed. This bill mandates the safe disposal of 28 million tons of toxic ash Dominion Energy now has stored on the banks of the Potomac, James and Elizabeth Rivers. Because of this bill, a national precedent is set for how to safely remove a legacy of toxic ash stored along our waterways in our region and across the nation.

Latest Projects

Safe Disposal of Coal Ash in Virginia

In our region, states began issuing permits in about 2014 for the closure of leaking coal ash ponds located along the Potomac, James, Patuxent, Susquehanna and other rivers. In Virginia, several Dominion Energy coal power plants fought to “cap in place” the toxic coal ash ponds. Potomac Riverkeeper, James Riverkeeper and Waterkeepers Chesapeake organized impacted … Read more

Federal Coal Regulations

In 2015, Waterkeepers Chesapeake joined more than a half-million comments from people supporting coal ash regulations that were imposed after lengthy negotiations with utilities, other industries and environmentalists. Under the Trump administration, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed to weaken or eliminate the federal safeguards and protections against the dangers posed by coal ash. Relaxing those … Read more

Crude Oil & Coal Trains

In 2014, there was an oil train derailment and explosion in downtown Lynchburg was a stark reminder that we need a national discussion about the safety and regulatory oversight of the transportation of hazardous materials through populated areas and sensitive environmental areas, especially along rivers that supply drinking water to cities such as Richmond, Baltimore … Read more