Residents, Officials Seek to Halt Coal Ash Storage at Possum Point

WASHINGTON — Dozens of Prince William County residents testified Tuesday against Dominion Power’s permit application to store millions of tons of coal ash at the Possum Point Power Station in Quantico and county officials are expected to recommend the state deny the permit.

Residents cited concerns over how the power company plans to contain the heavy metal pollutant in ponds at the plant.

“We oppose Dominion Power’s intent to bury the coal ash in what appears to be inadequate containers and logistically, a catastrophe waiting to happen,” said Joann Albee of Dumfries.

The Prince William County Board of Supervisors will provide comments to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, which oversees coal ash management. The department has 90 days from when it receives the recommendation to make a decision on the permit, which is expected to be finalized in June, said Bill Hayden, spokesman for the department.

“I ask you, I implore you please ask the DEQ for an extension of their decision-making to give you a chance to review plans,” Dumfries resident Brian West said to the Board of Supervisors out of concern for a rushed process.

Prince William County Supervisor Marty Nohe said the board will recommend that the Department of Environmental Quality deny the power company’s application.

“The board would very much like to see the coal ash removed from Prince William County, taken out of that site and away from the residential properties that are nearby,” Nohe said.

At the hearing, Kathy Taylor with Dominion Power explained the utility’s plans to ensure that the ash doesn’t contaminate the land and waterways.

“We could have closed all five ponds. Instead, we removed the ash that’s closest to the neighbors placing it in the D pond,” Taylor said of the 64-acre pond with a clay base that acts as a liner to prevent the ash from seeping into the ground.

Dominion representatives also addressed alternative options to contain the ash, including recycling and trucking it out.

“The plant has been operating since 1948. There’s 4 million tons there. It would take over 300,000 trucks to get the ash out of the area,” said Jason Williams, with Dominion Power.

Other options that also present challenges include rail and barges to transport the ash off site.

“There’s a number of methods that could take place, we understand there are challenges, I think they deserve consideration,” Nohe said.

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