Utility customers could pay for Virginia’s ‘historic’ coal ash cleanup

FILE - In this his May 1, 2018, file photo, the Richmond, Va., city skyline is seen in the horizon behind the coal ash ponds along the James River near Dominion Energy's Chesterfield Power Station in Chester, Va. The Virginia General Assembly has reached a bipartisan agreement on a bill that would clean up large coal ash ponds across the state. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)

The longstanding issue of coal ash ponds will be dealt with under a measure now signed into law.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam signed bipartisan legislation Wednesday to clean up the toxic coal ash stored in Dominion Energy ponds across the state.

The measure will clean up four sites within the Chesapeake Bay watershed, including the Possum Point Power Station in Prince William County, Virginia.

In all, millions of cubic yards of coal ash would be recycled or stored in lined landfills. But, under the measure, the cost of the cleanup can be passed along to Dominion customers.

“The potential risks to public health and water quality posed by unlined coal ash ponds in the commonwealth are far too great for us to continue with business as usual,” Northam said in a statement.

“This historic, bipartisan effort sets a standard for what we can achieve when we work together, across party lines, in the best interest of all Virginians,” Northam said.

Coal ash is heavy metal-laden waste left from burning the fossil fuel to produce electricity.

Dominion had argued for years that leaving coal ash in unlined pits was safe and the best alternative.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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