Coal Ash - Our Commitment to Getting it Right

We are committed to closing our ash ponds

For well over 100 years, as America’s economy grew, it relied on coal to provide inexpensive, reliable energy. As we shift to cleaner, less carbon-intensive electric power generating technologies, we have closed or converted several coal power stations to clean burning natural gas.

As we now transition to cleaner energy sources of the future we will continue to be responsible for managing coal ash to ensure the communities we call home are safe and environmentally sound.

Coal ash ponds and landfills have been used for decades to store coal ash – a byproduct of producing electricity at coal power stations. Dominion Energy has 11 coal ash ponds at four facilities and six coal ash landfills at five facilities where we continue to produce ash.

In accordance with new EPA rules, Dominion Energy and all energy producers nationwide must close coal ash ponds on these sites. We are moving to safely and permanently close these ponds while meeting or exceeding all federal, state, and local regulations. In 2018, we started the process of closing 6 of the 11 ash ponds where ash has already been or will be removed from the ponds. Four ponds at Possum Point Power Station and two ponds at Bremo Power Station will be closed in accordance with all applicable federal, state and local environmental regulations and necessary permits. Once permits are obtained, the ponds are expected to be permanently closed by the end of 2019. Groundwater monitoring and reporting will continue even after the ponds are closed.

In November 2018, Dominion announced four important actions toward closing our five remaining ash ponds at four power stations (Chesterfield, Possum Point, Chesapeake and Bremo):

  • The results of a recycling study which informs the debate on the costs, feasibility and market for recycling ash at our four remaining power stations with ash ponds.
  • A Memorandum of Agreement with the Commonwealth of Virginia where we agree to closure steps and groundwater monitoring for all of the coal ash at the Chesapeake Energy Center under the same strict standards imposed by federal and state ash rules.
  • Groundwater results at six power stations (Chesterfield, Possum Point, Bremo, Yorktown, Clover and the Virginia City Hybrid Center) which inform next steps for evaluating remediation at the facilities.
  • An upcoming regulatory filing for costs associated with managing coal ash at several power stations.

Recycling Study

In 2018, Dominion Energy sought proposals to determine the feasibility and costs of recycling at five ash ponds at four power stations (Chesterfield, Possum Point, Chesapeake and Bremo) and other ash facilities at Chesapeake Energy Center. Dominion Energy already recycles approximately 500,000 tons of coal combustion byproducts each year. The ash is used to help make cement and wallboard.

A total of 12 proposals and over 2,100 pages of information were received and evaluated. Bids were received for proposals to recycle for each of the four power stations. Bids were considered if they encapsulated the ash, as defined by coal ash regulations. Encapsulation binds the ash into a solid, such as concrete, brick, or wallboard for safe reuse.

The bids varied widely in terms of their impact on local communities resulting from the recycling process, the time it will take to complete the closures, and the potential cost. Based purely on the individual bids received, the costs range from $2.345 billion to $5.642 billion to recycle the ash at the sites. However, multiple bids were received that were based on a single bidder being awarded all of the work to recycle the ash at all the sites. In this case, the costs range from $2.773 billion to $3.358 billion. Note that these costs include project management, O&M, etc. These offers, if implemented, would recycle around 45% percent of the ash and landfill the remaining ash over a 15 year timeframe.

Each option has pros and cons with regard to local impacts such as truck and/or rail and barge traffic for one station. Trucking was proposed to transport material to local markets or landfills. Rail and barging were proposed for out of state markets. Truck traffic could range between 572 trucks a day to 718 trucks a day if material at all four sites were recycled within the parameters of the bids received.

In addition, the options to recycle should be considered along with other options to closure the ponds such as enhanced closure in place with groundwater remediation or removal to a landfill.

Chesapeake Memorandum of Agreement

Dominion Energy is committed to consistent standards of closure and protection of the environment for all of the coal ash at Chesapeake Energy Center. We have signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the Commonwealth of Virginia where we agree to groundwater monitoring and closure steps for all of the coal ash at the Chesapeake Energy Center under the same strict standards imposed by federal and state ash rules.

That means all of the ash facilities at Chesapeake Energy Center will require ongoing groundwater monitoring, corrective action, as well as closure and post-closure care under the jurisdiction of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. The strictest closure standards and groundwater protection standards will apply to the Bottom Ash Pond, the Landfill, and the Historic Pond at the site.

Groundwater Results

Recent groundwater test results for ash facilities at six power stations - Bremo’s North Pond, the Lower and Upper Ash Ponds at Chesterfield, Possum Point Pond D and the landfills at VCHEC, Clover and Yorktown can be found here.

There are no impacts to drinking water or public health.

Groundwater and surface water sampling has been and remains in place at all of the stations. Dominion Energy takes these results very seriously. Any impact or potential impact to our environment has our full attention. There are many ways to address these issues. We are currently determining the most effective means by which to move forward for our communities and our environment.

In 2017, at the direction of the Virginia General Assembly, Dominion Energy reported on closure options for 11 ash ponds at four of our Virginia power stations were assessed.

We hired AECOM, an engineering firm with broad experience in environmental engineering, including previous assessments of ash pond closure options in other regions of the U.S. to conduct the report.

We asked them to evaluate the environmental and community impacts, safety, costs and timeline for closing the ash ponds. This included capping and closing the ponds in place, placing the coal ash in a lined landfill as well as removing and recycling it.

The study was peer reviewed by a technical expert from Old Dominion University Research Foundation.

A link to the report is below. This report included feasible options that exist to manage the storage of coal ash, the costs associated with those options and the impacts to the community that are associated with the work.

Groundwater Monitoring Data

Mandy Tornabene, Vice President of Environmental Services talks about how Dominion Energy will responsibly manage the byproducts of coal powered generation.

Protecting Our Waters

Chief Environmental Officer Pam Faggert and Cathy Taylor, Director of Environmental Support, provide insight into the steps we are taking to protect our waters.

As we safely and permanently close our 11 coal ash ponds at four facilities in Virginia, we are committed to keeping the waterways in our communities clean, and no ash will be released into Virginia’s waterways at any time during the process of closing Dominion Energy’s coal ash ponds.

Process of closing coal ash ponds 

To close the coal ash ponds, we will treat and test the water before release. All testing data will be regularly updated and available to the public on our website. The closure approach is unique for each station.

Note that while the recycling analysis is conducted at Possum Point, at the last remaining pond with ash (Pond D), the company will temporarily cease the release of treated water from the pond. Therefore, water treatment will not be required while this assessment occurs. The current treatment system will be temporarily removed from the site.