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BREAKING: Thirty Five Students Refuse to Leave DEQ HQ Without Answers on Coal Ash


From the Virginia Student Environmental Coalition (VSEC):

Students demand answers from David Paylor on illegal dumping of coal ash wastewater before further dumping is allowed in Virginia waterways.

Richmond, VA — Monday, March, 7: 35 activists from the Virginia Student Environmental Coalition (VSEC) refuse to leave the DEQ lobby until Director of the DEQ, David Paylor, complies with their demands regarding Dominion Resources’ dumping of coal ash wastewater into the James River and Quantico Creek. This action is taking place in light of information that Dominion illegally dumped 33.7 million gallons of untreated wastewater into Quantico Creek over the past summer. The demands are as follows:

  1. That the DEQ repeals the permits issued to Dominion to begin dumping coal ash wastewater from their Bremo and Possum Point power plants.

  2. That the current permits are re-issued only after an investigation into the 2015 dumping of untreated wastewater into Quantico Creek.

  3. That the permits for coal ash wastewater release are rewritten to comply with the best available technology standards, in accordance with the Clean Water Act, and that a mechanism for independent third party monitoring is implemented.

Students from The University of Virginia, The University of Mary Washington, The College of William & Mary, Virginia Tech, and Virginia Commonwealth University entered the headquarters, located at 629 E Main St, Richmond VA, at 10:00 am and presented their intentions and demands, requesting to speak with Paylor immediately. A rally is also taking place outside of the building.

“David Paylor can’t keep his story straight regarding the wastewater dumping that took place last summer. If this is because he is covering for Dominion’s illegal activities, then how can we trust him to make future decisions regarding our environmental safety? If this is not the case, then why is he failing to address the issue now?” – Sarah Kinzer, Sophomore, University of Mary Washington.

“If David Paylor cannot adequately meet the health and safety needs of Virginia residents, then he is not fulfilling his role as DEQ Director, and we are prepared to demand his resignation.”- Kendall King, VSEC Coalition Chair.

“These incidents of environmental injustice are not isolated. In Flint, Michigan, we’ve recently seen what devastating effects that water containing concentrations of heavy metals can have on communities. This national pattern of water safety violations is indicative of widespread systemic issues.”- Jong Chin, Senior, James Madson University.

“The coal ash wastewater dumping is only one example of Dominion’s tendency to value profit over the safety of Virginians. This corporation continually endangers our health and safety by burning fossil fuels and building fracked gas pipelines. This is why, as students, we fight for fossil fuel divestment while simultaneously working to prevent Dominion from further endangering our safety. We need to cut all ties with fossil fuel companies.”- Aaron Tabb, Junior, Virginia Commonwealth University.

The Virginia Student Environmental Coalition (VSEC) is a statewide organization dedicated to unifying Virginia students and creating a network for education, advocacy, and action.

Background: On June 18th, 2015, the Southern Environmental Law Center contacted Department of Environmental Quality Director David Paylor to report that a coal ash pond at Dominion’s Possum Point Power Plant may have been illegally drained. One day later, on June 19th, Director Paylor responded that, “our best information is that no water was discharged to state waters.” On Monday, February 8th 2016, InsideNova released a story in which Dominion spokesman Dan Genest confirmed that 33.7 million gallons of untreated wastewater had been dumped into Quantico Creek last May. One day later, Department of Environmental Quality officials presenting at the Prince William County Board of Supervisors meeting stated that they were aware of Dominion’s untreated discharge in May of 2015.


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