State Senate votes to protect Virginians from toxic coal ash

virginia general assemblyThe State Senate voted 37-3 on Tuesday to pass a bill continuing the existing moratorium preventing Virginia from issuing permits to close coal ash ponds throughout the state, but allows Dominion Energy Virginia to close six ponds that have already have already been excavated and dewatered.

SB807, if it were to become law, will also direct Dominion to put out a request for proposals for recycling coal ash.

Coal ash is a toxic byproduct of burning coal. It is estimated that Dominion has more than 30 million tons of coal ash on site at the Bremo Power Station, Chesterfield Power Station, Possum Point Power Station and the former Chesapeake Energy Center. Exposure to coal ash at even low levels is linked to cancer, respiratory, neurological and gastrointestinal problems and is toxic to fish and wildlife.

In March 2017, a U.S. District Court judge ruled in Sierra Club v. Virginia Electric and Power Company d/b/a Dominion Virginia Power that heavy metals leaking from coal ash ponds into the Elizabeth River at the site of the former Chesapeake Energy Center was a violation of the Clean Water Act.

In response, Kate Addleson, director of the Sierra Club Virginia Chapter, released the following statement.

“The best way to prevent further water contamination, like we saw at Dominion’s power plant on the Elizabeth River, is to ensure coal ash is disposed of properly, either by moving it to lined sites away from bodies of water, or recycling it.

“We commend the Senate’s vote today to protect Virginians’ water from toxic coal ash.”

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