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Dominion receives permit to drain ponds at Chesterfield plant

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Dominion receives permit to drain ponds at Chesterfield plant

Dominion Virginia Power can begin draining wastewater fromits coal ash ponds at the ChesterfieldPower Station into the nearby James River after state regulatorsapproved a controversial permit.

The Virginia State Water Control Board voted 6-0 on Sept. 22to approve the reissuance of a permit that will allow Dominion Virginia Power,known legally as VirginiaElectric and Power Co., to discharge millions of gallons of treated stormwater and wastewater into the riveras part of its plans to close the coal ash ponds at the facility.

Essentially, the permit allows the drawdown and dewateringof both ponds at the site. The drawdown process involves treating and dischargingstanding water from the ponds and is limited to 2 feet per day, whiledewatering involves treating and discharging water "trapped in the pores"between the particles of the settled ash.

The Southern Environmental Law Center and James River Associationraised concerns about water temperatures tied to Dominion's intake anddischarge of cooling water and its impact on aquatic life, according to an articlefrom the Richmond Times-Dispatch. TheVirginia Department of Environmental Quality did agree to a slight modificationto the permit based on these concerns but environmentalists hoped for strictercooling water discharge requirements and effluent limits for heavy metals, thenewspaper reported.

The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality for thetreated coal ash wastewater discharge at Chesterfield in June.

The actual closureof the ponds is subject to a separate solid waste permit. Theexisting ash at the Chesterfield plant, which still operates, is expected to becapped and closed in place.

The DominionResources Inc. utility said it plans to build a "state-of-the-artlandfill" for future coalash disposal at the site.

In January, the State Water Control Board revised permits that will allowDominion Virginia Power to discharge millions of gallons of treated wastewaterfrom its coal ash ponds at PossumPoint Power Station in Prince William County and in Fluvanna County.