Planning Commission approves Bremo coal ash permits

By Heather Michon

The Fluvanna County Planning Commission unanimously approved a special use permit and zoning application for Dominion Power at its meeting on Tuesday (May 11), the next step in the company’s plan to move 6.2 million cubic feet of coal ash to a new landfill at the Bremo Power Plant.

Commissioners held an hour-long work session before the meeting and public hearing on the permits to discuss the project.

The coal ash, also called ‘fly ash’ or ‘coal combustible residuals’ (CCR), is the byproduct of over 80 years of coal-powered electricity generation at the now-shuttered Bremo facility.

Dominion has more than 25 million cubic feet of coal ash at plants across the state. Legislation passed by the General Assembly in 2019 requires the company to either recycle the potentially toxic ash or place it in fully lined landfills, rather than continue to maintain it in unlined ponds, where it can potentially contaminate groundwater and other water sources.

In a public meeting held at the Fork Union Community Center on April 29, Dominion representatives unveiled plans to move the coal ash now in a covered holding pond at the Bremo facility to a lined landfill elsewhere on the property. This will allow them to transport the ash fully within their own boundaries, rather than use county roads.

Commissioners discussed several issues during the work session, including the details of Dominion’s proffer of about $47 million to the county for water-related projects in the Fork Union Sanitary District (FUSD) and $2 million to the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) for any issues construction might cause on Bremo Road (Rt. 656). The project will also potentially bring a number of jobs to the area.

County Attorney Fred Payne said the county had been working closely with Dominion on the project details and the financial proffer since last fall.

If the county does not back Dominion’s plan for Bremo, the company’s only alternative would be to load it into what he called an “astronomical” number of dump trucks and shipping it out by train, clogging the roads around the plant and raising environmental concerns.

One issue troubling the commission was whether Dominion would use the proposed Bremo landfill as a dumping ground for coal ash from other facilities in Chesterfield and Possum Point, both near Richmond. While Dominion has not stated an intention to move ash in from other locations, commissioners asked that this be set out in writing as a requirement.

During the company’s presentation at the regular meeting, Dominion spokesperson Sarah Marshall said she didn’t think that that addition would be a problem, but that their lawyers would have to look at the specific language first.

Commissioner Gaquetta Murray-Key (Rivanna) also voiced concerns about what the project might mean for the quality of life and water quality for residents living in the 1.5 mile radius around the plant.

Dominion has committed to periodic testing of private wells within that zone and will pay for the residents to hook up to the main FUSD water lines or dig new wells in case of any contamination over the next 30 years.

No residents spoke during the public hearing.

Planning Commission Chair Barry Bibb (Cunningham) said he thought keeping the project contained on Dominion property is “probably the safest thing to do,” by keeping the material off the county roads. He also felt the proffer provided a good opportunity to upgrade the overall quality of drinking quality in the Fork Union area.

Commissioners then voted 5-0 on two motions, one to rezone 224.5 acres purchased by Dominion for the landfill from agricultural to industrial, and one to approve a Special Use Permit (SUP) for the construction of a landfill.

Now that the Planning Commission has made their vote, it will be up to the Board of Supervisors to make the final call. That vote will probably come sometime in June.

County approval is a critical, but preliminary, step in the process. Dominion will also have to get permits from the state and other government agencies before construction can even begin. They believe the project will take a decade to complete, at an estimated cost of $500 million.


Related Posts

dewi88 cuanslot dragon77 cuan138 enterslots rajacuan megahoki88 ajaib88 warung168 fit188 pusatwin pusatwin slot tambang88 mahkota88 slot99 emas138