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Hundreds protest downtown to repeal Dominion coal ash permit, 8 arrested

Hundreds protest downtown to repeal Dominion coal ash permit, 8 arrested
Posted at 5:06 PM, Feb 20, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-08 18:30:39-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- Eight protesters were arrested Saturday as hundreds of Virginians marched in downtown Richmond Saturday in protest against a recent permit that would allow Dominion Virginia Power to discharge 350 million gallons of coal ash pond water into the James River.

Capitol Police confirm the six women and two men have been charged with trespassing for protesting on the capitol steps.

Col. Steve Pike of Capitol Police said the protesting group had two permits to be at Bell Tower, but then the group marched down the street to the State Capitol with 200 to 300 people.

He said the group was in violation of permit conditions at that point. 

Police gave an order to disperse from the Capitol steps, but eight did not. Police then waited 50 to 60 minutes until resources were in place to arrest the protesters.

The protesters have been released and their court date is March 24.

Saturday's Protest  

Organizers of the event, No ACP, a chapter of the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, said their demand is an immediate repeal of the recent permits.

Under the January agreement, Dominion will drain water from three coal ash ponds at Bremo Bluff Power Station in Fluvanna County into the James River.

Protesters in downtown Richmond Saturday

Protesters in downtown Richmond Saturday

Coal ash is left over from burning coal and is commonly stored in retaining ponds generally on site of coal burning power plants. 

Potentially toxic concentrations of heavy metals inherent to coal ash include arsenic and mercury.

Coal ash waste water, according to environmentalist is what will be released into the James River.

Protester Margarette Dobbins told CBS 6 she loves the James River and doesn’t want to see any harm done to it.

“I like to spend time at the river, I like that the eagles have made a comeback,” Dobbins said. “I hope they will reconsider dumping in the river.”

Dominion and the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) officials have both declared the plan is safe for humans and aquatic life.


Tattiane Pena of ACP said the DEQ needs to ensure that our waterways and communities are protected.

“Dominion now has a proven track record for negligence and misrepresenting their actions to both state and federal agencies,” Pena said.

Dominion maintains no coal ash is going into Virginia waterways and that there has been a lot of misinformation circulated about the process. 

They said the permit is designed to protect the James and that the company, according to a spokesperson, “intends to fully comply with all state and federal requirements.”

Friday the company released resources intended to help educate the media and the public.

It’s not coal ash going into the waterways

There are several times where the media and concerned citizens have reported that “coal ash” will be going into the waterways.

Coal ash is the potentially toxic byproduct of burning coal and it is made up of aluminum oxide, iron oxide and silicon oxide. It contains arsenic, mercury and other metals.

The Bremo Bluff Power Plant sits near the James, in Fluvana PHOTO: Dominion Virginia Power

The Bremo Bluff Power Plant sits near the James, in Fluvana PHOTO: Dominion Virginia Power

The EPA created new regulations to address its disposal, not long after a leak in a 48-inch storm water pipe at retired Duke Energy plant in North Carolina sent about 39,000 tons of coal ash and wastewater and up to 27 million gallons of basin water pouring into the Dan River, which flows into Virginia.

At the plant upriver of Richmond, there are three coal ash ponds which contain approximately 357 million gallons of water (dependent on rainfall) that need to be drained. It will drain over a year and a half, and that’s it.

The water which sits on top if the coal ash is considered the least toxic part. Getting rid of that is the first step in Dominion’s plan to close its 11 coal ash ponds at its four Virginia facilities.

For more info on Dominion’s plan click here: