Coal Ash - Our Commitment to Getting it Right
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 retired 14 coal generating units.
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. In accordance with federal CCR regulations, Dominion Energy and all energy producers nationwide must operate and close coal ash ponds according to specific set of requirements. We are moving to safely and permanently close ponds, following EPA’s safe closure protocol while meeting or exceeding all federal, state, and local regulations.
We’ve designed a plan - which goes above and beyond U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Virginia Department of Environmental Quality regulations - to clean up the coal ash ponds. As we safely and permanently close our coal ash ponds, we are committed to keeping the waterways in our communities clean, and no ash will be released into waterways at any time during the process of closing Dominion Energy’s coal ash ponds.
To close the coal ash ponds, we will treat and test the water stored in the ponds before release as well as perform groundwater monitoring during and after the closure. All testing data will be regularly updated and available to the public on our website. The closure approach is unique for each station.
We operate coal ash landfills in compliance with all applicable federal, state, and local regulations.
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. Groundwater monitoring and reporting will continue even after the ponds are closed. For more information on groundwater monitoring and data, here's Dominion Energy’s CCR Rule Compliance Data and Information page for groundwater monitoring results and closure plans.
Before ash ponds can be closed, the water must be treated, tested, and removed to dry the ash for grading and construction of the closure cover system. This process is called “dewatering.” We do this using a multistage water treatment and filtration process according to stringent, government-mandated standards ensuring that any release has been thoroughly treated and tested. The process incorporates state-of-the-art science and engineering and independent, third-party verification. Water is tested multiple times before it ever touches the river, ensuring safety for people, wildlife, and our environment.
We’re working with several top firms that specialize in on-site wastewater treatment. Each site has been evaluated individually to select the best treatment process to protect our rivers and other waterways.
We are committed to keeping the waterways in our communities clean. Water quality monitoring results are available on our website.
As part of a move toward cleaner energy, we have closed several coal power plants, some smaller gas units and a biomass unit. We are committed to adhering to all federal and state requirements for our ash ponds and landfills.
Dominion Energy has 11 coal ash ponds, 2 FGD ponds and 3 low volume treatment ponds subject to coal ash regulations in Virginia and West Virginia. We started the process of closing ash ponds where ash has already been or will be removed from the ponds in accordance with all applicable federal, state and local environmental regulations and necessary permits. Groundwater monitoring and reporting will continue even after the ponds are closed. We have received pond closure permits for Bremo Power Station and Possum Point Power Station.
We began treating, testing and releasing water from ash ponds at Bremo Power Station in April 2016, at Possum Point Power Station in May 2016, and at Chesterfield Power Station in November 2017.
We are currently developing site specific plans for closing our ash ponds. We will also be developing transportation plans that will minimize truck traffic in the communities we serve in these locations.
In South Carolina we are removing ash from ash ponds by removal and work is nearing completion. Groundwater 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. Groundwater monitoring and reporting will continue even after the ponds are closed.
Here's more information on groundwater monitoring and data taking place in Dominion Energy's South Carolina service area.
Public & Environmental Safety
Dominion Energy is committed to the health of our communities and our environment and will meet or exceed all state and federal guidelines in both the closure and monitoring of our coal ash ponds and landfills.
Regarding our coal ash ponds, all water will be tested and treated through a site-specific treatment process before release, and we will continue to carefully monitor groundwater after the ponds are closed.
The closures need approval from multiple federal and state agencies and local jurisdictions regarding:
- land disturbance,
- environmental controls,
- groundwater protection, and
- other associated parts of the project.
We have worked with local communities and organizations, including the James River Association, which has said, "We thank Dominion (Energy) for engaging with us in a cooperative manner to address our concerns about the dewatering of Dominion (Energy)'s coal ash ponds at the Bremo Power Station. Through our agreement, Dominion (Energy) will install enhanced treatment for the wastewater that is designed to better protect all uses of the James River."
In addition to the EPA’s rule, Virginia incorporated the federal CCR regulations into its own regulations.
In 2018, as the result of Virginia legislation, 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.
In 2019, bipartisan Virginia legislation calling for removal of ash from existing ponds to lined landfills or for recycling was passed by the Virginia General Assembly and signed into law by the governor. Dominion Energy supported that legislation.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some FAQs about our Coal Ash Pond Management & Closures