RSS feed for DEQ news releases DEQ news releases

Official DEQ news releases.

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

Virginia holds informal comment period on Clean Power Plan

August 13, 2015

Contact: Bill Hayden
(804) 698-4447

RICHMOND, VA. -- The Department of Environmental Quality has announced an informal public comment period on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Clean Power Plan. The comment period will be August 13 through October 13, 2015.

The plan has been established to reduce carbon emissions from existing power plants that generate electricity from fossil fuels. These new EPA rules may have a significant impact on the Commonwealth. Therefore, before taking any formal action, DEQ is seeking input from the public on the best way to implement the emission guidelines for existing power plants.

DEQ is interested in identifying and collecting input from vulnerable and overburdened communities. These communities include low-income communities, communities of color, areas where people are most vulnerable to climate change, and communities where economies may be affected by changes in the utility power and related sectors.

Comments may be emailed to, faxed to (804) 698-4510, or sent by postal mail to the Air Division, Department of Environmental Quality, P.O. Box 1105, Richmond, VA 23218. There is no formal DEQ proposal available for comment at this time, and DEQ will not provide a response to comments.

DEQ also will meet informally with the public at a series of listening sessions around the state. The only topic under consideration will be the plan for existing power plants, and there will be no formal presentations from DEQ. The dates and times of these listening sessions will be announced soon.

More information is available on the DEQ website at:

From: Bill Hayden

Sent: August 13, 2015 at 2:29 pm

Virginia issues solid waste report for 2014

June 30, 2015

Contact: Bill Hayden
(804) 698-4447

RICHMOND, VA. -- The Department of Environmental Quality released its annual report today on solid waste management in Virginia. The report includes the amounts of solid waste managed in Virginia in 2014, and the amounts and sources of solid waste generated outside the Commonwealth.

The total amount of solid waste received at Virginia facilities during 2014 decreased by about 15,000 tons from 2013. Solid waste includes municipal solid waste, construction and demolition debris, vegetative and yard waste, and other types of waste. The total amount of solid waste from outside Virginia was about the same at 5.2 million tons. The total amount from within Virginia remained at about 15 million tons.

Other findings of the report include:

-- Of the 20.2 million tons of solid waste reported in 2014, about 12.4 million tons were municipal solid waste, which is trash from households and businesses.

-- The total amount of municipal solid waste generated outside Virginia was about 3.6 million tons, roughly the same as in 2013. Maryland, New York, Washington, D.C., North Carolina and New Jersey accounted for 98.4 percent of all waste received from out-of-state sources.

-- Of the total solid waste reported in 2014, about 3.9 million tons were construction and demolition debris.

-- Of the total solid waste managed in Virginia in 2014, about 12.2 million tons were disposed of in landfills, and about 2.2 million tons were incinerated. The rest was managed by other means, including mulching and recycling.

The full solid waste report is available on the DEQ website at

From: Bill Hayden

Sent: June 30, 2015 at 10:06 am

State Water Resources Plan open for public comment

April 7, 2015

Contact: Bill Hayden
(804) 698-4447

RICHMOND, VA. – The Virginia Water Resources Plan, the Commonwealth’s first comprehensive effort to incorporate information from locally developed water supply plans, is available for public review and comment, the Department of Environmental Quality announced today.

“This plan helps guide localities as they make decisions about their water supplies and helps in the management of the Commonwealth’s water resources on local, watershed, and statewide levels,” DEQ Director David K. Paylor said.

The water resources plan is a compilation of the information from local plans, and includes an analysis of how future water demand may affect key water uses. Among the main components of the plan are an extensive look at surface water and groundwater sources, and an assessment of the capacity of these sources to meet the projected water demand to 2040.

The plan outlines water supply challenges in Virginia and identifies recommendations to address these challenges. Recommendations include:

• Development of rules for surface water withdrawals and impoundment releases that are currently excluded from Virginia Water Protection permitting requirements.
• Expansion of groundwater monitoring wells in localities outside the eastern Virginia Groundwater Management Area to improve understanding of the groundwater resource and how pumping affects the aquifer.
• Increased emphasis on conservation efforts by localities to reduce demand.

The plan will be open for public comment through May 8, 2015, and is available on the DEQ website at Written comments to DEQ should be submitted to Tammy Stephenson, P.O. Box 1105, Richmond, VA 23218, or by email at

From: Bill Hayden

Sent: April 07, 2015 at 11:12 am

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

April 3, 2015

Contact: Bill Hayden
(804) 698-4447

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

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 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