On December 13, ASNV commented on Dominion Power's plans to "dewater" and discharge over 100 gallons of contaminated water from its coal ash ponds at their Possum Point plant in Prince William County.
President Carl Kikuchi wrote, "Auduboners are particularly concerned about the impact of the contaminated water on the water quality of Quantico Creek and the Potomac River and on the bird, fish and other aquatic life of those bodies of water.
"Despite years of effort, the Potomac River in Northern Virginia is impaired by metals, PCBs and mercury. Virginia has issued fish consumption advisories for many species, including carp, channel catfish, bullhead catfish, largemouth bass, striped bass, and white and yellow perch because of PCBs for the section of the river between Washington, D.C.'s 14th Street Bridge and the Route 301 bridge and many tributaries (see http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/epidemiology/DEE/PublicHealthToxicology/Advisories/PotomacRiver.htm). The Potomac Conservancy gave the river a grade of "D" in 2011 and "C" in 2014. In 2012, American Rivers declared the Potomac as America’s “most endangered river.” Eliminating the sources of pollutants like these coal ash dumps is a critical step toward cleaner water.
"The Potomac River and Quantico Creek are rich with many species of waterfowl year round, especially in winter. Winter surveys along Quantico Creek over the last five years have identified 15 species of wintering water birds, including large numbers of Canvasbacks, Gadwalls and Lesser Scaup, along with Buffleheads and Tundra Swans. Bald Eagles and Ospreys are also regularly sighted there. These and other water birds make use of variety of habitats, from tidal wetlands to open water along the shoreline to the middle of the river where thousands of Lesser Scaup sometimes occupy the channel. Shoreline habitats and wetlands are particularly important as some birds seek cover, raise their young, and feed in these areas, species such as Great Blue Herons, Least Bitterns, and Mallards."
ASNV made several recommendations. ASNV urged --
- DEQ to request a review of this application by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and the Department of Conservation and Recreation in order to obtain more information about the impacts of leaks and discharges from these ponds on fish, birds, other wildlife and aquatic habitat.
- DEQ to accelerate efforts to clean up the Potomac River rather than add more pollutants to it.
- that any permit that DEQ issues include standards to ensure a true cleanup, to prohibit discharges from the "toe drain" and to treat all contaminated waste intended for discharge, saying, "We believe that moving the coal ash to a lined solid waste facility is a better solution than attempting to 'store' it near bodies of water."
- that DEQ extend the public comment period by 60 days to provide sufficient time for further analysis and public input.