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Official DEQ news releases.

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

DEQ to hold public information meeting on New River PCB study

April 5, 2016

Contact: Bill Hayden
(804) 698-4447

RICHMOND, VA. -- The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality will host a public information meeting April 5, 2016, from 6 to 8 p.m. to share information about a water quality study related to polychlorinated biphenyls in the New River watershed. The meeting is in the Muse Hall Banquet Room at Radford University, 801 E. Main Street, Radford, VA 24141.

A "total maximum daily load" study of PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, is kicking off in the New River watershed. A TMDL is the maximum amount of a pollutant a water body may contain and still meet water quality standards. To restore water quality, PCBs will have to be reduced to the amount specified by the TMDL. During several years of fish tissue collection in the watershed ranging from Wythe County to Montgomery County, DEQ has found fish tissue contaminated with PCBs. These PCB levels have led the Virginia Department of Health to issue fish consumption advisories. A task force completed a source identification study and produced a report in 2004 that established the foundation for this PCB study.

During the meeting, DEQ, the Virginia Department of Health, and DEQ's contractor, Biological Systems Engineering from Virginia Tech, will have displays and staff available on numerous PCB-related topics. The meeting will focus on the PCB sources contributing to contaminated fish tissue in the New River, Reed Creek, Claytor Lake, Peak Creek, Walker Creek and Stony Creek watersheds. People or organizations interested in serving on the technical advisory committee will be asked to sign up expressing their interest. Acceptance to be on the committee is at the sole discretion of DEQ.

The public comment period on the study closes May 3, 2016.

PCBs are chemicals that were used in electrical transformers and other equipment until the late 1970s and can remain in the environment for decades. The Virginia Department of Health recommends that pregnant women, women who may become pregnant, nursing mothers, infants and young children should avoid eating PCB-contaminated fish from advisory areas. A full list of waters and fish affected by the advisories is available on the health department's web site at

From: Bill Hayden

Sent: April 05, 2016 at 11:16 am

Virginia issues report on chemical releases for 2014

March 29, 2016

Contact: Bill Hayden
(804) 698-4447

RICHMOND, VA. -- Virginia industries reported 917 million pounds of chemicals managed on-site, transferred off-site or released to the environment in 2014, a 5.6 percent increase from the previous year, according to the latest Toxics Release Inventory produced by the Department of Environmental Quality.

The overall increase is due to larger amounts of chemicals being managed on-site, such as through treatment or recycling. In addition, the report shows decreases in chemical releases to the environment -- the air, water and land.

"The long-term trend in releases of toxic chemicals to the environment continues to decline," DEQ Director David K. Paylor said, "and that is good news for all Virginians. Chemical releases in Virginia are managed under environmental permits, which ensure that people and the environment are protected."

DEQ compiles information on a wide range of toxic chemicals released by facilities that are required to submit reports each year. The 2014 report, which contains the most recent information available, includes these findings:

-- 35.2 million pounds of chemicals were released on-site to the air, water and land.
-- 66.9 million pounds of chemicals were transferred off-site for treatment, recycling, energy recovery or disposal.
-- 814 million pounds of chemicals were managed on-site by treatment, recycling or energy recovery.

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 640,800 pounds in 2014.

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 2014 TRI is available on the DEQ website at Information on releases from 2015 is due to DEQ this summer and will be available to the public in early 2017.

From: Bill Hayden

Sent: March 29, 2016 at 12:53 pm

DEQ statement on settlement of lawsuits over coal ash discharge permits

March 10, 2016

Contact: Bill Hayden
(804) 698-4447

RICHMOND, VA. -- The director of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, David K. Paylor, issued this statement today following the announcement that two lawsuits on the management of coal ash wastewater in Virginia have been settled:

"DEQ is pleased that Dominion has voluntarily agreed to go beyond federal and state regulatory requirements to further enhance protections for Virginia waters.

"DEQ has full confidence that its discharge permits fully protect water quality, aquatic life and human health. The permits issued for Dominion's Bremo and Possum Point power stations, like thousands of similar permits DEQ has written in the past four decades, meet strict federal and state requirements for water quality.

"The people who work at DEQ take their environmental stewardship obligations seriously, and recent accusations against DEQ's integrity are baseless. The quality of Virginia's rivers and streams has improved dramatically over the years. DEQ will continue to write and enforce permits that protect Virginia's environment in the consistent, thorough and responsible manner that Virginians deserve."

From: Bill Hayden

Sent: March 10, 2016 at 9:52 am

Marine debris summit to accelerate Virginia coastal and ocean cleanup efforts

March 2, 2016

Contact: Bill Hayden, DEQ
(804) 698-4447

Katie Register, Clean Virginia Waterways
(434) 395-2602

RICHMOND, VA. -- Marine debris is one of the most widespread pollution problems, not only in Virginia, but also in the world’s oceans and waterways, affecting wildlife, human health and safety, habitats, and economics.

More than 90 scientists, policy makers, and educators will convene March 7, 2016, for the Second Virginia Marine Debris Summit led by the Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program and Clean Virginia Waterways. The summit will be held at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, Waterman’s Hall, Greate Road, Gloucester Point, VA 23062.

"Marine debris is one of the most visible -- and preventable -- forms of pollution," said Katie Register, executive director of Clean Virginia Waterways of Longwood University, one of the conference organizers. "But it requires a multi-faceted effort of many organizations."

The summit will offer information about the latest science and best practices for reducing litter and debris that pollute waterways. Topics include using social marketing to influence behaviors, reducing cigarette litter and balloon releases, and the human health impacts of microplastics in the environment.

The Department of Environmental Quality is the lead agency for Virginia’s CZM Program, which is a network of state agencies and coastal localities.

"The Virginia CZM Program is naturally suited to this type of collaborative, multi-partner effort, and this summit will highlight and advance work begun through the Virginia Marine Debris Reduction Plan," said DEQ Director David K. Paylor. "That plan was completed in October 2014 and was the first of its kind on the East Coast."

Speakers include marine debris experts from DEQ, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Marine Debris Program, The Ocean Conservancy’s Trash Free Seas Program, the Chesapeake Bay Commission, and the Virginia Institute of Marine Science.

The summit begins at 1 p.m. on March 7 and ends at noon on March 9.

From: Bill Hayden

Sent: March 02, 2016 at 2:56 pm

Virginia authorizes $8.5 million for local stormwater projects

March 2, 2016

Contact: Bill Hayden
(804) 698-4447

RICHMOND, VA. -- The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality has authorized $8.5 million in matching grants for local government projects to reduce stormwater pollution. The grants come from the Stormwater Local Assistance Fund, created in 2013 to encourage best management practices that improve water quality.

"These grants are a key tool in our ongoing efforts to improve water quality in Virginia," said DEQ Director David K. Paylor. "The funds will help local governments implement specific projects that result in less stormwater pollution in our rivers, streams and the Chesapeake Bay."

The grants cover 17 projects in 17 localities. The projects focus on cost-effectiveness and enhanced stormwater management plans that address required water quality improvements in the Commonwealth.

A total of 77 projects statewide were submitted to DEQ for consideration this year. The list of projects and more information on the grants is available on the DEQ website at

From: Bill Hayden

Sent: March 02, 2016 at 8:54 am