Sierra Club “Coal-Aid” stand attracts attention at DEQ hearing

earthCitizens concerned with the proper storage and disposal of coal ash from Dominion’s Chesterfield Power Station who turned out to a Department of Environmental Quality public hearing in Chester on Wednesday were met by “Tom and Bob’s Coal-Aid” stand.

The public hearing was held to take comments on the proposed DEQ permit associated with the closure of the facility’s coal ash ponds and discharge of waste – including cooling water, treated industrial wastewater, and stormwater – into the James River.

Activists with the Virginia Chapter of the Sierra Club set up the mock lemonade stand and served glasses of “Tom and Bob’s Coal-Aid” to officials and attendees at the event to highlight the threats to public health posed by toxic coal ash and the corporate executives responsible for these decisions. The product, made of water from the James River, served as a powerful reminder of the potential dangers of a state agency turning a blind eye to the possible contamination of drinking water sources.

The “Coal-Aid” stand premiered at the public information session regarding the same permit, which took place in June. The stand will continue to appear at DEQ events related to the dewatering and solid waste permits pertaining to the Chesterfield Power Station. The stand underscores the ongoing concerns about toxic coal ash contamination of groundwater and surface water if it is not disposed of properly.

Coal ash is known to contain a variety of toxic elements, including: arsenic, mercury and more. The James River serves as a source of drinking water for about 50 of Virginia’s localities.

“Coal ash is toxic waste,” Kate Addleson, Director of the Virginia Chapter of the Sierra Club, said. “Recent studies show that allowing Dominion to leave its coal ash waste in unlined pits can allow dangerous pollutants to end up in our water. The James serves as a major source of drinking water for more than 50 localities in Virginia, and residents are justifiably concerned that these toxins may threaten their health if the ash is not moved to lined sites away from the water.”

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