Dominion Agrees to Study Different Cleanup Scenarios Before Taking Action on Coal Ash

Apr 11, 2017

Dominion has agreed to look into several options before taking action on coal ash.
Credit Steve Helber / AP

The battle to get scientific information about pollution BEFORE action is taken to fix the problem finally has a resolution.

Earlier this year, a bipartisan group of lawmakers had a plan to fix a thorny problem — what to do about all the coal ash that’s sitting in ponds at four locations in Virginia? The lawmakers wanted to make sure Dominion completed exhaustive research about the groundwater effects of different cleanup scenarios BEFORE taking action. But when that stalled in the House, a compromise effort allowed the utility to move forward with its plan to cap the pollution in place and study the effects later. Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe amended the bill to restore the timeline. And now, Dominion spokesman David Botkins says:

“We agree with the amendments as they were proposed by the governor.”

That’s a victory for Republican Senator Amanda Chase and Democratic Senator Scott Surovell. Those are the two lawmakers leading the charge to get the study completed before Dominion started taking action. Surovell says he’s particularly excited about the possibility that the coal ash — the byproduct of coal-fired power plants — might be recycled.

“There are a lot of innovators around the entire country who are coming up with new uses for coal ash so that instead of digging it up and putting it in a landfill or putting a cap on it, we can actually use it to make other products — whether that’s concrete or things like railroad ties or other types of ceramics.”

Surovell says that would be a much better solution than having the polluting sit around in a landfill.