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Coal Ash Solid Waste Permit Actions

Coal ash, a byproduct of burning coal to produce electricity, has traditionally been managed in landfills or surface impoundments. Coal ash landfills are categorized as industrial landfills in accordance with the Virginia Solid Waste Management Regulations (VSWMR, 9VAC20-81), while surface impoundments were previously exempt from permitting under the VSWMR.

In Virginia the following power stations manage coal ash in landfills and/or surface impoundments:

In 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (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 with two types of environmental permits. The first – a wastewater discharge or Virginia Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (VPDES) permit – covers the removal of treated water from the ponds. These permits are governed by State Water Control Law. 

After the water has been removed, the safe closure of coal ash ponds occur under a permit issued in accordance with Virginia’s Solid Waste Management Regulations, which incorporate provisions of the EPA Rule. The permit requires, where applicable, conditions from House Bill 2786/Senate Bill 1355, which include:

  • Review and approval of closure and installation of cap 
  • Groundwater monitoring 
  • Surface water monitoring 
  • Cost estimates and financial assurance 
  • Post-closure plan and cap maintenance 
  • Public participation process Public Par

Public Participation Process

  • Public Notice – Once a draft permit has been prepared, a public notice will be published in the newspaper covering the area of the facility and made available through other avenues. The public notice will announce the availability of the draft permit, the date and time of public participation opportunities, including informational sessions and the public hearing, and the procedures and deadline for submitting comments.
  • Public Comment Period – The public comment period identified in the public notice is the opportunity to provide specific comments about the pending permit actions for DEQ to consider prior to any final permitting decision. Comments can be submitted in writing in accordance with the public notice or verbally at the public hearing. A Guide to Effective Public Comments provides more information.
  • Informational Session – This is scheduled after a permit is completed and will provide the opportunity for individuals to learn more about the specific permit, public participation process and ask questions prior to the public hearing.
  • Public Hearing – This is the formal process to provide verbal comments on the pending permit and will be scheduled in the locality where the facility is located. It is important to note that during the public hearing, DEQ staff cannot answer questions about the permit; the hearing is solely for the receipt of comments. Those who have questions should attend the informational session or briefing, or separately submit their questions to the DEQ contact person listed in the public notice.

Public Notices Issued

At this time there are no public notices for solid waste coal ash permits.

 

 
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Virginia Department of
Environmental Quality
P.O. Box 1105
Richmond, VA 23218
(804) 698-4000


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