Coal

Aerial photo of Possum Point coal ash 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 (including within five feet of groundwater), regular inspection of coal ash ponds, monitoring of groundwater near coal ash sites, closure of leaking ponds, cleanup when contamination is found, safe closure of dumps, and public posting of monitoring and inspection results. Under Administrator Scott Pruitt, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed to weaken or eliminate the federal safeguards and protections against the dangers posed by coal ash. These changes put the health and well-being of communities on the Potomac, James, Susquehanna, Patuxent and many other rivers at risk.

In our region, states began issue permits 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 communities, legislators and other groups to fight this plan. In 2019, this hard fought campaign resulted in Virginia Safe Disposal of Coal Ash bill (SB 1355) that mandates the safe disposal of 28 million tons of toxic coal ash Dominion Energy now has stored on the banks of the Potomac, James and Elizabeth Rivers. This bill sets a national precedent for how to safely remove a legacy of toxic coal 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

Coal Trains

In 2014, there was a coal 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. The amount … Read more