Coal ash management in Virginia

Coal ash, a byproduct of burning coal to produce electricity, has been stored for decades in water-filled ponds at locations across the country. Many of these ponds were created before modern environmental regulations were established to ensure the safe management of coal ash.

Senate Bill 807 adopted by the 2018 General Assembly requires every owner or operator of any coal combustion residuals (CCRs) surface impoundment or other CCRs unit that no longer receives CCRs, located within the Chesapeake Bay watershed, to issue a request for proposals for entities to conduct recycling or beneficial use projects for the CCRs at such impoundment or unit.  The request must be issued by July 15, 2018. By November 15 2018, the owner or operator must submit a business plan compiling the information from the request to various committees of the General Assembly and state agencies.  The request and business plan will be posted once it becomes available. 

The legislation also delays the solid waste permitting for closure of these units where the unit is proposed to be closed in place until after July 1, 2019. The legislation does allow for permitting of the unit where CCRs have already been removed and placed in another impoundment on site, are being removed from an impoundment, or are being processed in connection with a recycling or beneficial use project.

This prohibition on permitting continues a moratorium previously established by Senate Bill 1398 in the 2017 General Assembly.  Consistent with both Senate Bills, no permit for a CCR surface impoundment proposed to be closed in place located within the Chesapeake Bay watershed will be issued before July 1, 2019. If permitting documents related to CCR units that are being closed by removal are received, they will be posted as have previous permitting documents and those actions will be subject to the same public participation elements including a public notice and public hearing prior to any final action.

Dominion has posted a copy of the assessments on its website:

The bill also requires that DEQ suspend, delay or defer the issuance of solid waste permits regarding the closure of these surface impoundments until at least May 1, 2018. The legislation also delays the solid waste permitting for closure of these surface impoundments. Although the bill went into effect July 1, 2017, consistent with SB 1398, no solid waste permits for closure of the CCR surface impoundments at these four sites will be issued until at least May 1, 2018, the date established in the bill.

In 2015, EPA announced final coal ash regulations, which established national minimum criteria for the disposal of coal ash in landfills and ponds. The Waste Management Board adopted the regulations for Virginia in December 2015. 

DEQ is addressing the safe closure of coal ash ponds in the Commonwealth with two types of environmental permits. 

The first, called a wastewater discharge permit or a Virginia Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (VPDES) permit, covers the removal of treated water from the ponds. These permits are addressed under the State Water Control Law. 

The second, a solid waste permit, oversees the permanent closure of these ponds. These permits are approved by DEQ under the Virginia solid waste management regulations.

  • Permit limits will be calculated to ensure that discharges comply with water quality standards, which are adopted to protect water quality and aquatic life. Monitoring requirements will ensure that discharges meet water quality standards.
  • A protective synthetic layer will be installed over ponds according to solid waste management regulations, including the requirements of EPA’s rule. The area will be covered with soil and vegetation to protect it from rain and to help protect groundwater.
  • All permits include public participation opportunities. Information is provided to the public on pending permit actions. There are public comment periods and there may be public hearings for each permit.
  • Groundwater monitoring will be required to ensure that off-site water, such as surface water or private drinking water wells, are not affected by these ponds. 

These are the facilities that have coal ash ponds:

For more information:

Additional information will be posted as it becomes available.

Featured Topics

Possum Point Update

Solid Waste Permit Actions and all facility locations

Coal ash management factsheet

DEQcast news feed about regulatory actions concerning coal ash

Weekly water compliance reports

News clips

Calendar

Activity Due Date More Information
Public hearing for solid waste permit regulating two sludge sedimentation basins that manage wastewater and solids at the Clover Power Station at 7:00 PM on June 8 at the Halifax County Administration Building,1030 Cowford Road, Halifax, VA.  An informational session will be held at 6:00 PM to answer questions relating to groundwater monitoring and clean closure of the basins per the EPA CCR rule.  Note: questions and comments made during the information session will not be part of the official public comment record. The public comment period extends from May 8th to June 23, 2017.  June 8, 2017 Jenny Poland
Public hearing for solid waste permit regulating the closure of the coal ash ponds at Possum Point power station. 7 p.m. at Potomac Senior High School, 3401 Panther Pride Drive, Dumfries, VA. An info briefing was held at 6 p.m. Comment period: Jan. 13 to March 10, 2017. Note:   goes into effect July 1, 2017. February 16, 2017 Richard Doucette
Public meeting on a proposed solid waste permit for the coal ash pond closure at Dominion Possum Point power plant was held. January 26, 2017  Richard Doucette
Public hearing for the proposed coal ash pond closure at Appalachian Power Company's Clinch River power plant.  Meeting was held at the Russell County Conference Center located at 139 Highland Drive, Lebanon, VA   Comment period: Jan. 11 to March 9, 2017. February 15, 2017 Dan Manweiler
Public meeting for proposed solid waste permit regulating the closure of the coal ash pond at Appalachian Power Company's Clinch River power plant. Russell County Conference Center located at 139 Highland Drive, Lebanon, VA. Questions and comments are not part of the official public comment record. See solid waste permits for more info.  Snow date is Feb. 1, at 7 p.m. January 25, 2017 Dan Manweiler
State Water Control Board Meeting September 22, 2016 Cindy Berndt
Public hearing on the draft VPDES water discharge permit at City of Chesapeake City Council Chamber, 306 Cedar Road, Chesapeake, VA. See presentation and VPDES permit actions. The public comment period for the water permit action was June 3 through July 22, 2016. July 7, 2016
Janet Weyland           
Public hearing on the draft VPDES permit reissuance for Dominion's Chesterfield Power Station addressed the discharge of cooling water, treated industrial wastewater and stormwater, as well as discharges associated with the closure of the facility's coal ash ponds. An informational meeting was held immediately preceding the hearing. See VPDES permit actions for the draft permit, technical factsheet, staff presentation and all related documents. Comment period was June 6, 2016 to July 21, 2016.
July 6, 2016 Kyle Winter
Information session for the reissuance of Dominion’s Chesterfield Power Station VPDES permit addressed the discharge of cooling water, treated industrial wastewater and stormwater. It also covered additional industrial wastewater and stormwater discharges associated with the closure of the facility's coal ash ponds. Questions and comments from this session are not part of the official public comment record. See VPDES permit actions for the draft permit, technical factsheet, staff presentation and other related documents.

June 22, 2016

 Kyle Winter
Information session for closure of the Chesapeake Energy Center's landfill and coal ash ponds. Questions and comments made during this session are not part of the official public comment record. See VPDES permit actions for draft water permit and related documents. See Waste permit actions for draft solid waste landfill amendment and VPDES permit actions for related documents.  See staff presentation 6/16/16 for overview of both permit actions. June 16, 2016  Janet Weyland
Public hearing on draft permit for Appalachian Power Co. to release treated industrial wastewater, sanitary wastewater and stormwater related to the closure of the facility's Clinch River coal ash ponds in Russell County. See VPDES permit actions for related documents, including the technical factsheet.   May 4, 2016 David Nishida
Information session regarding the reissuance the VPDES permit, as well as other issues with respect to the closure of the facility's Clinch River coal ash pond. Note: this meeting was not required, and is not part of the official record, but informed the public on the proposed permit action. April 20, 2016 David Nishida
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Virginia Department of
Environmental Quality
P.O. Box 1105
Richmond, VA 23218
(804) 698-4000


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