Style’s recent article on Dominion Virginia Power’s coal-ash cleanup painted a one-sided, alarmist picture of what is actually happening. The story is quite different.
In reality, Dominion is working carefully, but with urgency, to safely and responsibly fix a potentially risky environmental situation with coal-ash ponds at several of its power stations. The risk, as analyzed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, is that these ponds could accidentally spill a large amount of unfiltered and untreated coal ash and coal-ash water into nearby rivers or streams.
While that has not happened in Virginia — Dominion’s ponds are inspected routinely to ensure their structural integrity — it has happened in two nearby states in recent years, prompting the EPA to mandate that the ponds be safely and permanently closed.
That is what we are in the process of doing. It is an environmental protection story, but to read Style you would hardly know it. You wouldn’t know that the James River will continue to be completely safe and usable for everything it is safe for today — boating, fishing, swimming and serving as the source for Richmond and other local drinking water systems.
Style leaves the impression that everyone should be worried, very worried, distrustful of Dominion, distrustful of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, distrustful of anyone who thinks that maybe this is a safe, effective solution to a pressing environmental problem.
Dominion is committed to protecting the James River and other waterways in Virginia. Obviously, so is the DEQ — it is one of its primary missions — and it has helped make the James cleaner and more usable for many decades now.
Dominion will be using a sophisticated, state-of-the-art system to treat and test the water before it is released. It will even be much cleaner than our permit requires. And we will post the results of the water testing on our website to make sure the process is transparent.
We live here, too. Our employees use and love the river as much as anyone. Many of them are fishermen, kayakers, hikers and environmentalists — and they have high standards, too.
One of them is Bob Blue, president of Dominion Virginia Power. He has paddled on the James since he was a child and has been known to kayak or canoe to work. He loves and respects the river as much if not more than the young protester you showed on your front cover.
Chief Environmental Officer and Vice President of Corporate Compliance
Dominion Virginia Power