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 combustion residuals (CCR) also known simply as coal ash. In Virginia, six power stations manage coal ash with a pond system.

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 amended the Virginia Solid Waste Management Regulations in December 2015 to incorporate the EPA CCR Rule. Since EPA first promulgated these regulations, revisions have been adopted by EPA. To date, Virginia has not incorporated revisions that are less stringent than the original regulation.

Additionally, the 2019 General Assembly passed legislation regarding the closure of coal ash ponds in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.  Effective July 1, 2019 coal ash ponds at power stations in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed must be closed by removal and the coal ash either recycled or disposed of in a modern, lined landfill. Additionally, the legislation requires that a minimum of 6.8 million cubic yards must be recycled from at least two of the four sites subject to the legislation.  The legislation also includes additional requirements related to transportation, public water connection, and continued efforts to recycle.

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 and include requirements for the EPA CCR Rule, the solid waste management regulations, and where applicable, ensure closure is conducted pursuant to House Bill 2786/Senate Bill 1355.

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Surface water monitoring will be required to ensure that any impacted groundwater does not adversely affect adjacent surface water. 
  • Information on specific power stations that have coal ash ponds including any proposed or final water or waste permits are available on individual facility pages.  Where DEQ has proposed a permitting action at one of these power stations for permit action related to coal ash, the proposed permitting action will be posted on the appropriate facility page.

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 at all CCR facility locations

History

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, Halifax, VA.  An information session was 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 are not part of the official public comment record. The public comment period extended 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 PM at Potomac Senior High School, 3401 Panther Pride Drive, Dumfries, VA. An info briefing was held at 6 PM. Comment period: Jan. 13 to March 10, 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.  The meeting was held at the Russell County Conference Center in 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: Feb. 1. 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 in 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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