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

Virginia issues 2009 recycling report

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 15, 2010

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

RICHMOND, VA. – The Department of Environmental Quality has issued its annual report on recycling by Virginia localities for 2009, and for the first time since the adoption of the state’s recycling mandate, all localities have met or exceeded their required recycling rates.

Using data from the recycling rate reports submitted by Virginia’s 71 solid waste planning units (either a local government or a regional authority), DEQ reports that Virginia recycled 38.6 percent of its municipal and other solid wastes in 2009. The report quantifies the continuing growth of recycling in the Commonwealth and shows a small improvement over the 2008 recycling rate of 38.5 percent.

Each planning unit is required to achieve a minimum 25 percent recycling rate – unless its population density is less than 100 people per square mile, or its unemployment rate is 50 percent or more above the statewide unemployment average. Localities meeting these criteria are required to achieve a minimum 15 percent recycling rate.

The highest recycling rates were reported in the urban areas of the state. For 2009, these areas reported a total of 3 million recycled tons, or 86 percent of all recyclables collected, and had an average recycling rate of 41 percent.

In each of the last four reporting years, more localities have met the established recycling rates. This is the first year since 1989, when the General Assembly first called on localities to achieve specific recycling rates, that 100 percent of localities have met the requirement.

The report is available on the DEQ website at www.deq.virginia.gov/. It provides an overview of the materials recycled, the amount of waste disposed, and a listing of the recycling rate reported by each solid waste planning unit for 2009.

From: Bill Hayden

Sent: November 15, 2010 at 2:12 pm

DEQ releases results of Hopewell air quality study

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 1, 2010

CONTACT: Bill Hayden
(804) 698-4447
wphayden@deq.virginia.gov

RICHMOND, VA. -- Based on information from a new air quality study of the Hopewell area, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality will target three chemicals for further evaluation, DEQ announced today, as work continues to identify possible sources of the chemicals and the extent to which they are found in the region. None of these chemicals was found in concentrations that are a cause for immediate concern.

This analysis is the second phase of a study investigating air pollutants in Hopewell. The study used information from earlier air quality monitoring efforts to help determine whether any of the chemicals raise concerns for human health. DEQ is seeking public comment on the report through November 1, 2010.

“Our initial results from the earlier monitoring phase of the study showed that levels of the chemicals acrolein and formaldehyde are higher than we had expected, but not necessarily higher than in other parts of the state,” DEQ Director David K. Paylor said. “This latest risk study has indicated that DEQ needs to evaluate carbon tetrachloride as well.”

Air quality studies across the United States show that the levels of all three of these chemicals are about the same in Hopewell as what many other urban and rural areas of the country experience, according to the DEQ report.

“Our primary responsibility is to protect people’s health and the environment,” Paylor said. “DEQ has evaluated the results of the study and has developed an action plan for addressing each of these chemicals.”

The action plans for the chemicals being studied include:

• Acrolein – DEQ already has begun studying this chemical, which according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has been found in many locations across the country. Initial studies will focus on the procedures to test for acrolein to determine whether the method of handling samples affects the test results and results in inaccurate readings. Small amounts of acrolein can be formed and can enter the air when trees and tobacco are burned. Driving cars and burning oil and gasoline also can raise concentrations of acrolein in the air.

• Formaldehyde – DEQ also has formaldehyde studies under way. Information from formaldehyde monitoring stations in Surry County and Virginia Beach will be compared with Hopewell information to determine the possible regional extent of formaldehyde concentrations. Formaldehyde is used in the production of fertilizer, paper and plywood. It is also used as a preservative in some foods and in many products used around the house, such as antiseptics, medicines and cosmetics.

• Carbon tetrachloride – Though this chemical was not identified in the earlier phase of the air quality study, its presence does indicate it may contribute to human health concerns. DEQ will evaluate emissions information and request updates from industries in the Hopewell area. Additional study will be conducted to determine possible sources of carbon tetrachloride emissions. Carbon tetrachloride has been used in the production of refrigeration fluid and propellants for aerosol cans, as a pesticide, as a cleaning fluid and degreasing agent, in fire extinguishers, and in spot removers.

DEQ began the Hopewell air quality study in 2006 with a grant from EPA. The study covered 68 chemicals and metals, and 96 percent of them were below air quality levels of concern. DEQ worked closely with a stakeholder group from Hopewell to design and conduct the monitoring study.

As a result of the study’s earlier work, DEQ has already placed another monitor in Hopewell and is analyzing several more chemicals beyond what previously was studied. More information and the full Hopewell air quality risk study are available on the DEQ website at www.deq.virginia.gov.

Comments on the report may be sent to Charles L. Turner, Director of Air Quality Monitoring, Department of Environmental Quality, 4949-C Cox Road, Glen Allen, VA 23060, or by email to charles.turner@deq.virginia.gov.

From: Bill Hayden

Sent: October 01, 2010 at 11:11 am

2010 report details status of water quality in Virginia

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 23, 2010

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

RICHMOND, VA. -- Virginia’s 2010 water quality report, released today by the Department of Environmental Quality, provides detailed information on more than 1,200 watersheds in the Commonwealth. This report contains a water quality assessment from January 2003 to December 2008, as well as the statewide list of impaired waters.

“We continue to find watersheds where pollution is a problem,” DEQ Director David K. Paylor said, “but we also are seeing more areas where water quality has improved. This is good news that we expect to continue as our cleanup efforts progress throughout the state.”

This year DEQ has added about 1,400 miles of streams and rivers, and 2,500 acres of lakes to the impaired waters list. About 25 square miles of estuaries were removed from the list. Virginia needs to develop about 1,200 cleanup plans, in addition to an undetermined number of cleanup plans resulting from the 2010 listing.

More than 430 waters have been removed from the impaired waters list because they now fully meet water quality standards. An additional 600 waters have been removed for at least one impairment. In addition, about 80 full delistings and 540 partial delistings are proposed in this year’s report.

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 agency has assessed 98 percent – or 1,218 – of 1,247 watersheds since the 2002 report.

The report provides, as in past assessments, the number of stream miles and the area of lakes, reservoirs and estuaries assessed. Among the information contained in the report:

• About 5,600 miles of rivers and streams, 16,000 acres of lakes and reservoirs, and 113 square miles of estuaries have high water quality that supports some or all six designated uses – aquatic life, fish and shellfish consumption, swimming, public water supplies and wildlife.
• About 12,100 miles of rivers and streams, 96,500 acres of lakes and reservoirs, and 2,200 square miles of estuaries are impaired.
• Sufficient information was not available on about 34,500 miles of streams and rivers, and 3,700 acres of lakes and reservoirs.

DEQ invites public comment on the contents of the report until September 24, 2010, at 5 p.m. A webinar summarizing the findings in the report will be held on the Internet on August 26, 2010, from 11 a.m. to noon. Those interested must register in advance at https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/267343337. Questions about the report may be submitted online during the webinar.

The draft 2010 water quality report is available on the DEQ website at www.deq.virginia.gov. Written comments on the report should be sent to Darryl M. Glover, DEQ water quality monitoring and assessment manager, or by email attachment at darryl.glover@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: August 23, 2010 at 10:30 am

Secretary Domenech to tour Southwest Virginia

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 27, 2010

Contact: Sara Benghauser
Phone: (804) 786-0044
E-mail: sara.benghauser@governor.virginia.gov

Richmond – Doug Domenech, Virginia’s Secretary of Natural Resources, will participate in his first tour of Southwest Virginia since taking office in January.

“I am looking forward to being back in this important region of the Commonwealth,” said Domenech. “As a student at Virginia Tech, I fought fires in Wise County with the U.S. Forest Service, and my family has hiked many times at Grayson Highlands State Park and Mt. Rogers National Recreation Area.”

During this trip, July 28 to 30, Domenech will meet and address state employees at the Regional Headquarters of the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) in Abingdon, and participate in a tour of historic sites in downtown Abingdon.

“It is a great honor to work with the men and women at DEQ and DCR who are dedicated to the wise management of Virginia’s abundant natural resources,” said Domenech.

The tour of downtown historic sites was arranged by the Department of Historic Resources (DHR) which is part of the Natural Resources secretariat. Expected to join the Secretary on the tour are: Town Manager Greg Kelly, Mayor Ed Morgan, Town Council Member Rick Humphrey, former director of the William King Art Center, Betsy White, and DHR Acting Regional Director Mike Pulice from Roanoke.

“Abingdon has a rich history” said Domenech. “The town was founded in 1778 during the American Revolution and the Abingdon Historic District was one of the first registered historic districts in Virginia, listed on the Virginia Landmarks Register in 1969 and the National Register the following year. Abingdon is blessed by having so much of that history still preserved.”

Secretary Domenech will also visit Natural Tunnel State Park in Scott County, near Gate City. Called the Eighth Wonder of the World by William Jennings Bryan, Natural Tunnel has been attracting sightseers to the mountains of southwestern Virginia for more than 100 years and today is the focal point of Natural Tunnel State Park, one of Virginia’s 35 award winning state parks.

“I am looking forward to seeing this wonderful creation,” said Domenech, “and meeting the Park employees.”

During his visit, the Secretary will participate in a reception at the Cove Ridge Center with representatives from the Cove Ridge Foundation, Daniel Boone Wilderness Trail Association, Scott County Tourism, and the Scott County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. He will also meet with representatives of the Duffield Wilderness Road Interpretive Center Project.

Domenech will also travel to Buchanan County to visit the operations of Jewell Smokeless Coal Corporation in Vansant, VA and meet with local officials. He will also tour the Southern Gap Development Area to view Post-Mining Land Use Projects and Airport Reconstruction Plans.

“People in Virginia’s coal country work hard to provide energy for the Commonwealth and across the country,” said Domenech.


Background on Secretary Domenech

Douglas W. Domenech was appointed Secretary of Natural Resources on January 17, 2010 by Governor Robert McDonnell.

In this capacity Domenech (pronounced “DOM-en-etch”) is responsible for six state agencies including the:

Department of Environmental Quality

Department of Conservation and Recreation

Department of Historic Resources

Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, and

Virginia Marine Resources Commission

Virginia Museum of Natural History

Previously, Secretary Domenech served in a number of positions at the U.S. Department of Interior from 2001 to 2009 including as White House Liaison and as Deputy Chief of Staff to the Secretary.

A forestry and wildlife management graduate from Virginia Tech, Domenech has had a career in natural resource management including work for the US Forest Service, ITT Rayonier paper company, Alabama A&M University, and 12 years working for the Forest Resources Association. He was appointed by Governor George Allen to the Goose Creek Scenic River Advisory Board and the Commonwealth Competition Council. Under Governor Jim Gilmore he was appointed to the Virginia Board of Forestry.

Prior to his appointment as Secretary, Domenech was the Senior Vice President of Artemis Strategies, a Washington, DC based government relations firm and as a principal at Chrysalis Energy Partners, an energy consulting firm focused on renewable energy issues.

From: Bill Hayden

Sent: July 28, 2010 at 9:05 am

Virginia issues statewide drought watch

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 14, 2010

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

RICHMOND, VA. – Precipitation deficits and above-average temperatures have resulted in the emergence of drought impacts across much of the Commonwealth. In response to existing conditions and the potential for the situation to intensify quickly, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality has issued a statewide drought watch.

A drought watch is intended to increase awareness of climatic conditions that are likely to precede a significant drought event and to facilitate preparation for a drought. Despite recent rain in portions of the Commonwealth, the potential exists for drought impacts to intensify if hot, dry conditions redevelop. DEQ recommends planning for that possibility as Virginia heads into the statistically driest months of the year.

The Virginia Drought Assessment and Response Plan specifies four indicators that are used to evaluate the severity of a drought: precipitation deficits, stream flow, ground water levels and reservoir levels. Stream flows in all areas of the Commonwealth, with the exception of Northern Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley, are at levels that indicate a drought watch or more severe drought status. Ground water levels in western and south central Virginia indicate a drought watch status, and levels in much of the remainder of the state are close to drought watch status.

The primary factors contributing to the declaration of a statewide drought watch are:

• Approximately 86 percent of the Commonwealth is experiencing abnormally dry to moderate drought conditions as defined by the U.S. Drought Monitor.
• Most of Virginia has experienced below normal precipitation in the last 60 days, and some areas have received less than 50 percent of the average precipitation. Short-term weather forecasts do not indicate a high probability of widespread, significant precipitation events that will erase these deficits.
• The majority of stream monitoring locations across Virginia are recording stream flows below normal ranges (less than the 25th percentile). The portions of the state with the lowest flows are southeast and central Virginia, where stream flows are consistent with moderate to severe hydrologic drought conditions.
• Agricultural interests statewide are seeing impacts from the dry conditions. Impacts include poor hay harvests, poor grazing conditions resulting in the use of hay reserves, and indications of stress to crops including corn.
• Observations during the last few weeks indicate that wildfire occurrence, rates of spread and fire intensity are much greater than would normally be expected during this time of the year. Twenty Virginia localities had issued burning bans as of July 12.
• There are no widespread reports of drought conditions affecting public water supplies.
• Levels of large reservoirs such as Lake Moomaw, Smith Mountain Lake, Kerr Reservoir and Philpott Reservoir have been slowly declining since June.

Through the drought watch declaration, the Commonwealth is encouraging localities, public water suppliers and self-supplied water users to voluntarily take these steps to help protect current water supplies:

• Minimize nonessential water use.
• Review existing or develop new local water conservation and drought contingency plans and take conservation actions consistent with those plans.
• Include water conservation information on local websites and distribute water conservation information as broadly as possible.
• Continue monitoring the condition of public waterworks and self-supplied water systems in partnership with the Virginia Department of Health.
• Impose water use restrictions when consistent with local water supply conditions.
• Aggressively pursue leak detection and repair programs.

The state and local governments are closely monitoring conditions across the Commonwealth, and revisions to the drought stage will be made as conditions warrant. Updated information on the current drought status and water conservation tips are available on the DEQ website at www.deq.virginia.gov.

From: Bill Hayden

Sent: July 14, 2010 at 11:04 am