Green Groups to Sue to Block Coal Ash Wastewater Permit 

State granted Dominion permit to dump treated wastewater in James River.

Dominion's Bremo Power Station sits 60 miles upstream of Richmond on the James River.

Scott Elmquist

Dominion's Bremo Power Station sits 60 miles upstream of Richmond on the James River.

Two environmental groups have filed notice that they will appeal a state permit that will allow Dominion Virginia Power to discharge millions of gallons of coal ash wastewater into the James River as it cleans up coal ash pits at its Bremo Power Station.

The James River Association and the Southern Environmental Law Center say that Dominion should be prohibited from dumping 350 million gallons of the wastewater, which they say contains dangerous heavy metals that exceed the state’s water standards.

The State Water Control Board approved the permit last month.

Dominion has contended that it will dewater three coal ash pits at the plant more than 50 miles upstream of downtown Richmond. The water will be further treated before it is dumped in the James, Dominion says, although the state’s permit doesn’t specifically require that extra level of treatment. The pits will then be sealed permanently.

“The James River Association is committed to ensuring that the James River is fully protected from the harmful effects of coal ash,” says Bill Street, chief executive of the association.

Dominion is moving to secure coal ash pits at several power stations to comply with new federal rules following major spills in North Carolina and Tennessee.

Environmental groups plan a similar legal challenge over a state permit to allow wastewater to be released from coal ash pits at the Possum Point Power Station into the Potomac River.

Dominion will seek more permits for its Chesterfield and Chesapeake Power Stations. For the company's response to the pending legal action, see the statement in this Style story.

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