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Official DEQ news releases.

List administrator(s): Bill Hayden, Jennifer Underwood, Irina Calos, John Tragesser

Proposed consent order imposes $2.5 million settlement on Duke Energy Carolinas for Dan River coal ash spill

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 3, 2015

Contact: Bill Hayden
(804) 698-4447
william.hayden@deq.virginia.gov

RICHMOND, VA. – The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality has proposed a $2.5 million settlement against Duke Energy Carolinas as a result of the 2014 coal ash spill into the Dan River.

The settlement, part of a consent order to which Duke has agreed, is one of the largest ever proposed by DEQ. It includes $2.25 million in environmental projects that Duke must perform to benefit Virginia localities affected by the spill. The remaining $250,000 will be placed in the fund DEQ uses to respond to environmental emergencies.

“This order is a significant step forward in Virginia’s efforts to protect our communities and natural resources following the coal ash spill,” DEQ Director David K. Paylor said. “It also ensures that Duke is held fully accountable for the impact of this incident.”

“One of DEQ’s top goals has been to make sure that the local communities and the Commonwealth are made whole. This order is the next step in the process.”

A public comment period on the proposed order will be open through May 20, 2015. Afterward, the State Water Control Board must give final approval for the order to take effect. The order is available on the DEQ website at www.deq.virginia.gov.

The spill occurred February 2, 2014, when a stormwater pipe beneath a coal ash storage pond collapsed at a Duke facility in Eden, N.C., sending up to 39,000 tons of coal ash and about 25 million gallons of ash impoundment water into the Dan River. The material moved downriver and settled out in varying amounts for about 80 miles, reaching the Kerr Reservoir in Virginia.

DEQ and several state and federal agencies have been monitoring the Dan River since the spill. Though no immediate environmental concerns have been identified, analysis of data collected during the past year is ongoing and will form a “baseline” for detailing potential problems in the future. DEQ will continue long-term evaluation of the river, including monitoring and assessment of water quality, sediments and fish populations for at least the next two to four years.

In addition to proposing the consent order, DEQ is participating in a multi-part enforcement strategy involving Duke. These actions include:

• Cost reimbursement – DEQ negotiated terms with Duke immediately after the spill for full reimbursement of all costs associated with spill response on behalf of Halifax County, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, the Virginia Department of Health, and DEQ. Cost recovery to date totals $237,000 and will continue until work on the Dan River is complete.

• Order for coal ash removal – DEQ coordinated with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and other state and federal agencies in the development of EPA’s consent order requiring Duke to conduct ash removal from the Dan River. This included dredging at Abreu-Grogan Park in Danville, where crews removed more than 2,000 tons of coal ash and river sediment. Duke also removed contaminated solids from settling basins at the Danville and South Boston water treatment plants.

• Natural Resource Damage Trustee Council – DEQ is representing the Commonwealth and local communities on the Dan River Natural Resource Damage Trustee Council. Along with the North Carolina DENR and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, DEQ is working with Duke on the assessment and compensation for harm to Virginia’s natural resources. Identification of opportunities for “early restoration” projects is under way with the trustee council’s review of proposals solicited from the localities and general public in late 2014.

• Department of Justice criminal action – DEQ has assisted the U.S. Department of Justice in the development of its criminal case against Duke in North Carolina. DEQ will continue to coordinate with DOJ to advocate for Virginia’s interests in any plea agreement between the United States and Duke, including the requirement of community service projects benefitting affected local communities and the Dan River watershed.

From: Bill Hayden

Sent: April 03, 2015 at 1:32 pm

Virginia issues report on chemical releases for 2013

RICHMOND, VA. – Virginia industries reported 868 million pounds of chemicals managed on-site, transferred off-site or released to the environment, a 0.6 percent decrease from the previous year, according to the latest Toxics Release Inventory produced by the Department of Environmental Quality.

The report also shows an increase in releases to air and land. The increase in air releases results mainly from emissions from paper and chemical manufacturing, while the increase in land releases are due mainly to releases from electric utilities. Chemical releases in Virginia are managed under environmental permits, which ensure that requirements of state and federal laws and regulations are met.

“Virginia’s overall trend in releases of toxic chemicals continues to decline,” DEQ Director David K. Paylor said. “The increases we see in this year’s report indicate higher production at some chemical and electrical generating facilities in 2013. DEQ continues to work with industries across the state to find ways to reduce chemical releases.”

DEQ compiles information on a wide range of toxic chemicals released by facilities that are required to submit reports each year. The 2013 report, which contains the most recent information available, includes these findings:

• 36 million pounds of chemicals were released on-site to the air, water and land (an increase of 10.3 percent from 2012).
• 67.6 million pounds of chemicals were transferred off-site for treatment, recycling, energy recovery or disposal (a 3.6 percent increase from 2012).
• 764 million pounds of chemicals were managed on-site by treatment, recycling or energy recovery (a 1.4 percent decrease from 2012).

The report also includes data about releases of a group of chemicals known as persistent bio-accumulative toxics. These chemicals remain in the environment for long periods of time and can build up in body tissue. On-site releases of these chemicals totaled 219,721 pounds in 2013.

DEQ uses the TRI data to identify facilities for projects to reduce pollution at the source. The Virginia Environmental Excellence Program at DEQ uses incentives and assistance efforts to promote environmental stewardship beyond regulatory compliance. The goal of this initiative is to help develop more efficient technologies and business operations by reducing the amount of chemicals released to the environment and improving how the chemicals are managed.

The 2013 TRI is available on the DEQ website at www.deq.virginia.gov. Information on releases from 2014 is due to DEQ this summer and will be available to the public in early 2016.

From: Bill Hayden

Sent: March 27, 2015 at 11:03 am

Proposed consent order imposes $361,000 penalty on CSX in response to James River tanker fire

RICHMOND, VA. – The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality has proposed a consent order in response to the derailment of a railcar that caught fire in the James River in Lynchburg on April 30, 2014. The order imposes a $361,000 civil charge against tanker car owner CSX Transportation Inc.

An investigation by DEQ and CSX determined that of the more than 29,000 gallons of crude oil in the breached tanker, approximately 98 percent was consumed in the fire.

DEQ checked water quality for several days along the river from Lynchburg to Richmond and observed no other environmental concerns at the time. The consent order is based on state law that prohibits release of oil to land or water.

The consent order, to which CSX has agreed, also calls for CSX to pay more than $18,500 for DEQ’s investigative costs following the oil spill. In addition, CSX will complete restoration of the James River bank in the area of the derailment and conduct monitoring of the river to determine if there are any long-term environmental impacts from the incident.

The public has until March 25, 2015, to submit comments on the order before it goes to the State Water Control Board for final approval.

The proposed consent order is available on the DEQ website at www.deq.virginia.gov.

From: Bill Hayden

Sent: February 23, 2015 at 10:43 am

Virginia issues 2014 report on water quality

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 17, 2014

Contact: Bill Hayden
(804) 698-4447
william.hayden@deq.virginia.gov

RICHMOND, VA. – Virginia’s 2014 water quality report provides detailed information on more than 1,200 watersheds in the Commonwealth, the Department of Environmental Quality announced today. This draft report contains an assessment of the latest water quality conditions using data collected from January 2007 to December 2012, as well as the statewide list of impaired waters.

“Virginia remains dedicated to protecting and restoring water resources across the state,” DEQ Director David K. Paylor said. “As we continue to make progress, this report illustrates the ongoing need for vigilance in maintaining and improving water quality – from the Chesapeake Bay to small backyard streams – and we encourage all Virginians to participate in water protection efforts.”

Similar to the last report in 2012, DEQ will add about 830 miles of streams and rivers, 360 acres of lakes, and 4 square miles of estuaries to the impaired waters list because of further monitoring. This would bring the total number of cleanup plans DEQ must develop to 1,830. The most common impairment in rivers and streams is from bacteria pollution, followed by reduced levels of oxygen in certain waters.

Waters also are being removed from the list. For example, a delisting may be appropriate if new data indicate that a water quality standard is being attained. This can be a result of successful pollution control efforts, or it may occur independently of formal cleanup plans. For the 2014 assessment, DEQ has proposed removing 335 waters from the list; the most common delisted impairment is bacteria.

Every two years Virginia monitors about one third of the state’s watersheds on a rotating basis, taking six years to complete a full monitoring cycle. The report provides, as in past assessments, the number of stream miles and the area of lakes, reservoirs and estuaries evaluated. Among the information contained in the report:

• About 6,440 miles of rivers and streams, 19,420 acres of lakes and reservoirs, and 310 square miles of estuaries have high water quality that supports some or all designated uses – aquatic life, fish and shellfish consumption, recreation, public water supplies, and wildlife.
• About 16,040 miles of rivers and streams, 94,800 acres of lakes and reservoirs, and 2,130 square miles of estuaries are impaired.
• Sufficient information was not available to assess about 78,440 miles of streams and rivers, 2,970 acres of lakes and reservoirs, and 400 square miles of estuaries.

DEQ invites public comment on the report until January 30, 2015. A webinar summarizing the findings in the report will be held at 10 a.m. on January 8, 2015. Those interested must register in advance at:

https://www3.gotomeeting.com/register/728422390

Questions about the report may be submitted online during the webinar.

The draft 2014 water quality report is available on the DEQ website at www.deq.virginia.gov. Written comments on the report should be sent to John M. Kennedy, DEQ water quality monitoring and assessment manager, by email attachment at john.kennedy@deq.virginia.gov or by mail at P.O. Box 1105, Richmond, VA 23218. DEQ requests that all emailed and written comments include the sender’s name, mailing address, phone number and email address.

From: Bill Hayden

Sent: December 17, 2014 at 11:11 am

Virginia Green announces 2014 Travel Star Award winners

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 10, 2014

Contact: Bill Hayden
(804) 698-4447
william.hayden@deq.virginia.gov

RICHMOND, VA. – The Virginia Green program presented 12 Virginia Green Travel Star Awards for outstanding green tourism practices at the second annual Virginia Green Conference and Travel Star Awards Celebration on December 9, 2014. Sixteen additional tourism businesses were recognized and received the Virginia Green Travel Leader Award for their efforts.

The Virginia Green program is run through a partnership of the Department of Environmental Quality, the Virginia Tourism Corporation, and the Virginia Hospitality and Travel Association. The program encourages green practices in Virginia’s tourism industry, and it has nearly 1,400 partner organizations that have self-certified their green commitments.

The 2014 Virginia Green Travel Star Award winners are:

• Green Attraction of the Year: John Paul Jones Arena, Charlottesville
• Green Brewery of the Year: Port City Brewing, Alexandria
• Green Event of the Year: EnRichmond Foundation, Richmond
• Green Hotel of the Year: Lorien Hotel & Spa, Alexandria
• Green Inn / Cabins of the Year: Shadow Mountain Escape, Luray
• Green Restaurant of the Year: Local Roots Restaurant, Roanoke
• Green Winery of the Year: North Gate Vineyard, Purcellville
• Green Supporting Organization of the Year: Norfolk International Airport
• Green Supplier of the Year: Natural Organic Process Enterprise, Richmond

Most Innovative Green Projects:
 -- Hyatt Regency Reston Laundry Project, Reston
 -- Virginia Oyster Shell Recycling Program, Richmond
 -- Inns at Montpelier Virginia Green Project, Montpelier

The 2014 Virginia Green Travel Leader Award winners are:

• Adventure Kayak Tours, Chesapeake
• Arcady Vineyard Bed and Breakfast, Charlottesville
• Blue Mountain Escape, Linden
• Broad Appetit, Richmond
• Clay Corner Inn, Blacksburg
• Hilton Garden Inn Downtown Richmond
• Mountain Song Inn, Floyd
• Natural Bridge Hotel & Conference Center
• Oak Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast, South Boston
• Richmond Multisports, Richmond
• Salamander Resort and Spa, Middleburg
• Sandbridge Blue Realty, Virginia Beach
• The Westin Richmond
• University of Mary Washington, Fredericksburg
• Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center, Virginia Beach
• Virginia Living Museum, Newport News

Information about Virginia Green is available on the DEQ website at www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/PollutionPrevention/VirginiaGreen.aspx. Marketing of the Virginia Green partners is handled by the Virginia Tourism Corporation and is available at www.VirginiaGreenTravel.org.

From: Bill Hayden

Sent: December 10, 2014 at 2:17 pm