Chesapeake Energy Center

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Chesapeake Energy Center is a coal-fired power station owned and operated by Dominion near Chesapeake, Virginia. The plant is in the process of being closed down by 2016 following a Sept. 1, 2011 announcement from Dominion. The plant's coal waste site is Chesapeake Energy Center Bottom Ash / Sedimentation Pond.

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Closure announcement

Dominion announced on Sept. 1, 2011 that it plans to close both the Chesapeake Energy Center and the Yorktown Power Station by 2016. Two of the four units at the Chesapeake center are expected to be shut down by 2015 and the remaining two units would likely be shut down a year later. [1]

Reaction to the announcement included applause from the Sierra Club and others fighting coal power in Virginia. "Dominion has clearly signaled that it's time to shift away from dirty and dangerous sources of energy that affect the lives of every Virginian," said Mary Anne Hitt, Director of the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal Campaign. [2]

Chesapeake Energy Center and Environmental Justice

Dominion's Chesapeake Energy Center has 53,955 residents within a 3-mile radius and 1,311 within a one-mile radius. Within the 3-mile radius, 43.3% of residents are non-white with a per capita income of $16,751, below the U.S. per capita income of $21,587,[3] raising issues around environmental justice and coal. The plant does not have a scrubber to reduce emissions.[4] Chesapeake Energy Center is among over 100 coal plants near residential areas.

Plant Data

  • Owner: Dominion Virginia Power
  • Parent Company: Dominion
  • Plant Nameplate Capacity: 650 MW (Megawatts)
  • Units and In-Service Dates: 113 MW (1953), 113 MW (1954), 185 MW (1959), 239 MW (1962)
  • Location: 2701 Vepco St., Chesapeake, VA 23323
  • GPS Coordinates: 36.771389, -76.301944
  • Coal Consumption:
  • Coal Source:
  • Number of Employees:

Emissions Data

  • 2006 CO2 Emissions: 4,183,816 tons
  • 2006 SO2 Emissions:
  • 2006 SO2 Emissions per MWh:
  • 2006 NOx Emissions:
  • 2005 Mercury Emissions:

Coal waste Site

Death and disease attributable to fine particle pollution from Chesapeake Energy Center

In 2010, Abt Associates issued a study commissioned by the Clean Air Task Force, a nonprofit research and advocacy organization, quantifying the deaths and other health effects attributable to fine particle pollution from coal-fired power plants.[5] Fine particle pollution consists of a complex mixture of soot, heavy metals, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxides. Among these particles, the most dangerous are those less than 2.5 microns in diameter, which are so tiny that they can evade the lung's natural defenses, enter the bloodstream, and be transported to vital organs. Impacts are especially severe among the elderly, children, and those with respiratory disease. The study found that over 13,000 deaths and tens of thousands of cases of chronic bronchitis, acute bronchitis, asthma, congestive heart failure, acute myocardial infarction, dysrhythmia, ischemic heart disease, chronic lung disease, and pneumonia each year are attributable to fine particle pollution from U.S. coal plant emissions. These deaths and illnesses are major examples of coal's external costs, i.e. uncompensated harms inflicted upon the public at large. Low-income and minority populations are disproportionately impacted as well, due to the tendency of companies to avoid locating power plants upwind of affluent communities. To monetize the health impact of fine particle pollution from each coal plant, Abt assigned a value of $7,300,000 to each 2010 mortality, based on a range of government and private studies. Valuations of illnesses ranged from $52 for an asthma episode to $440,000 for a case of chronic bronchitis.[6]

Table 1: Death and disease attributable to fine particle pollution from Chesapeake Energy Center

Type of Impact Annual Incidence Valuation
Deaths 51 $370,000,000
Heart attacks 80 $8,700,000
Asthma attacks 860 $45,000
Hospital admissions 38 $910,000
Chronic bronchitis 32 $14,000,000
Asthma ER visits 43 $16,000

Source: "Find Your Risk from Power Plant Pollution," Clean Air Task Force interactive table, accessed February 2011

VA OKs golf course made with coal ash from Dominion waste site

60 Minutes on coal waste and Dominion golf course

In 2008, worries and complaints about water contamination from Chesapeake's Battlefield Golf Club at Centerville surfaced. Officials at the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) allowed developers to build the golf course with coal ash. Upon hearing of the complaints, a former employee said the DEQ attempted to limit the paper trail related to the project so the agency couldn't be blamed. The employee - Allen Brockman, a DEQ groundwater expert from 2001 to 2009 - said he saved e-mails that support his contentions. Brockman said the presence of any groundwater contamination on the golf course, which has been established, is enough for DEQ to declare the property an open dump site and to order all the ash removed, but that hasn't happened.[7]

The golf course involved the transfer of 1.5 million tons of ash from an overloaded coal waste landfill, the Chesapeake Energy Center Bottom Ash / Sedimentation Pond at Dominion Virginia Power's Chesapeake Energy Center to a marshy, 217-acre site near scores of residential drinking-water wells. Brockman said DEQ allowed the golf course to be built against the backdrop of a chronic arsenic leaching problem at Dominion's coal-ash landfill, treated only with a binding agent to make the course. A "corrective action plan" to remediate the leaching arsenic at the landfill, along the Elizabeth River, had been in development for years. "So the idea of taking this same coal ash, from a landfill site, and placing it in the middle of a community would have been not only unacceptable, but frankly unconscionable," Brockman stated in his affidavit. Even with the use of a binding agent, which Brockman said was ineffective, no groundwater expert would have let the project move forward under any circumstances. Yet he said the early meetings between Dominion and DEQ did not include groundwater experts.[7]

Virginia residents file $1 billion suit against Dominion over fly ash site

In March 2009, attorneys representing almost 400 residents who live near Battlefield Golf Club in Virginia filed a lawsuit in Chesapeake Circuit Court, seeking over $1 billion in damages. The suit claims that Dominion Virginia Power sent fly ash to the site, ignoring a consultant's determination that the ash would leach harmful elements into the local drinking water supply. The lawsuit names as defendants Dominion, course developer CPM Virginia LLC, and VFL Technology Corp., Dominion's coal-ash management consultant. The suit accuses the companies of committing conspiracy and fraud, battery, negligence, infliction of emotional distress, and the creation of a nuisance. The resident's attorneys are demanding the removal of all fly ash from the site; the cleaning of the aquifer and installation of public water and sewer service; compensation for personal injury and decreased property values; and the creation of a fund for treatment costs and health monitoring.[8]

Study finds dangerous level of hexavalent chromium at Dominion coal waste sites

The study "EPA’s Blind Spot: Hexavalent Chromium in Coal Ash," released by EarthJustice and the Sierra Club in early February 2011, reported elevated levels of hexavalent chromium, a highly potent cancer-causing chemical, at several coal ash sites in Virginia.[9] In all, the study cited 29 sites in 17 states where hexavalent chromium contamination was found. The information was gathered from existing EPA data on coal ash as well as from studies by EarthJustice, the Environmental Integrity Project, and the Sierra Club.[10][11][12][13] It included locations in Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Massachusetts, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virgina and Wisconsin.[9]

According to the report, hexavalent chromium (Cr(VI)) was found at elevated levels at the following sites:[9]

  • Dominion's Yorktown Power Station unlined coal ash pond at 100 ppb (parts per billion) - 5,000 times the proposed California drinking water goals and above the federal drinking water standard.
  • Chesapeake, Virginia's Battlefield Golf Course unlined coal waste fill above 100 ppb (parts per billion) - 5,000 times the proposed California drinking water goals and above the federal drinking water standard. The golf course involved the transfer of 1.5 million tons of ash from an overloaded coal waste landfill, the Chesapeake Energy Center Bottom Ash / Sedimentation Pond at Dominion Virginia Power's Chesapeake Energy Center.[7]

A press release about the report read:

Hexavalent chromium first made headlines after Erin Brockovich sued Pacific Gas & Electric because of poisoned drinking water from hexavalent chromium. Now new information indicates that the chemical has readily leaked from coal ash sites across the U.S. This is likely the tip of the iceberg because most coal ash dump sites are not adequately monitored.[14]

According to the report, the electric power industry is the leading source of chromium and chromium compounds released into the environment, representing 24 percent of releases by all industries in 2009.[9]

Citizen groups

Articles and Resources

Sources

  1. Dominion News Dominion Power Co., Sept. 1, 2011.
  2. "Sierra Club Celebrates Dominion Decision to Phase out Two Virginia Coal Plants" Sierra Club Press Release, Sept. 1, 2011.
  3. United States - Income and Poverty in 1999: 2000, U.S. Census Bureau, 2000.
  4. Clean Air Markets - Data and Maps, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2009.
  5. "The Toll from Coal: An Updated Assessment of Death and Disease from America's Dirtiest Energy Source," Clean Air Task Force, September 2010.
  6. "Technical Support Document for the Powerplant Impact Estimator Software Tool," Prepared for the Clean Air Task Force by Abt Associates, July 2010
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Robert McCabe, "Former worker: Agency's OK to use fly ash 'unconscionable'" PilotOnline.com, October 3, 2010.
  8. Roger McCabe, "400 residents sue Dominion, developer over fly-ash site," Virginia Pilot, March 27, 2009.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 "EPA’s Blind Spot: Hexavalent Chromium in Coal Ash" Earthjustice & Sierra Club, February 1, 2011.
  10. "Damage Case Report for Coal Combustion Wastes," August 2008
  11. U.S. EPA Proposed Coal Ash Rule, 75 Fed. Reg. 35128
  12. EarthJustice, Environmental Integrity Project, and Sierra Club, "In Harm's Way: Lack of Federal Coal Ash Regulations Endangers Americans and their Environment," August 2010
  13. EarthJustice and Environmental Integrity Project, "Out of Control: Mounting Damages from Coal Ash Waste Sites," May 2010
  14. "Coal ash waste tied to cancer-causing chemicals in water supplies" Alicia Bayer, Examiner.com, February 1, 2011.

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