Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Dominion Yields to Possum Point Greenmail

Dominion will pay for public water hook-ups for Prince William residents concerned about coal ash
After nearly a year of widely varying tests of drinking-water wells amid worries about potential coal-ash contamination, people who live near Dominion Virginia Power’s Possum Point power plant in Prince William County will get hooked up to public water or receive filtration systems at the utility’s expense, Dominion officials said Friday.

The company’s decision, after months of maintaining that hydrology and geology precluded the possibility that the ash ponds could be the source of heavy metals and other substances that have shown up in some residents’ wells, follows testing of a new network of monitoring wells, included two near neighboring homes, that showed elevated levels of boron, chloride, cobalt, nickel, sulfate and zinc, said Jason Williams, Dominion’s environmental manager.

“They’re inconsistent with what we’ve seen in the past,” Williams said. “We just feel like the best thing to do is to give everybody peace of mind.”

The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality requested the additional monitoring wells in September as part of its review of Dominion’s solid-waste permit to close the ponds at Possum Point, which burned coal until 2003 when the coal-fired units converted to natural gas.

“Now that we’ve got these results that seem inconsistent with what the geology is telling us, we need to do more investigation and figure out exactly why we’ve got these results when we know what the geology is,” Williams said. “That’s going to take time.”

He said the company will contact about 35 properties in the area and could not provide an estimate for how much connecting them to public water through the Prince William County Service Authority might cost Dominion.
So there are some inconsistent measurements in wells in the general vicinity of the Possum Point and Dominion is being blackmailed into hooking all the neighbors to public water system, even though it's pretty doubtful that the measurements, which did not violate any water quality standards, had anything to do with the ash ponds.

It's probably a good deal for Dominion. I imagine the law suits over the ash ponds cost a lot of lawyer time, and probably cost more than 35 water hook ups, regardless of the out come. The neighbors are happy, the lawyers are left hungry. Win win. In our community, a water hook up costs $3,000, plus the cost of the water line. A lawyer won't usually sneeze for $3000, and getting them to do plumbing is nearly impossible. . .

I was involved in a similar study, once, to look the effects of the coal pile of the Chalk Point Power Plant (owned by PEPCO at that point, I think) on the wells in Eagle Harbor MD. The only thing we found was some arsenic in deeper wells, below 300 ft. Of course, that was because the intermediate depth aquifers in Southern Maryland. the Aquia and the Nanjemoy are naturally high in arsenic, and had nothing to do with the presence of the plant. Some people were upset that we didn't find anything they could use to extract a settlement out of PEPCO.

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