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Gauge Height: 12.53'
Flow: 45900 cfps

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Low Tide: 5:12pm

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Could Toxic Bremo Discharge Harm the James?

Andy Thompson

December 14, 2015 5:01pm

Today is the final day to make your voice heard on an issue that may very well threaten the health of the James River above (and down into) Richmond. The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is finalizing the Bremo Power Station coal ash pond dewatering permit.

Environmental groups, like the James River Association and others, and concerned citizens worry that Dominion’s intentions to dump millions of gallons of wastewater per day into the James River could have significant negative consequences for the river.

According to c-ville.com: Alleging that the wastewater potentially being discharged from a Fluvanna County power station will contain coal ash and toxic metals, some are worried about the environmental impacts on the river in which many swim, fish and boat. The Department of Environmental Quality has issued the permit, but is allowing comments from the public until December 14.

Pat Calvert, JRA’s Upper James Riverkeeper, told c-ville.com, I will certainly not swim in those waters…Those who may ingest or be exposed to discharged wastewater could be affected by these substances, particularly while they are less diluted and in higher concentrations. Fishing could be affected through the effect on the game fish and the forage.”

Calvert says millions of Virginians rely on the river for drinking water, recreation and economic value. Various levels of danger are associated with each chemical present in the coal ash wastewater—lead, arsenic, mercury, selenium, boron and thallium—that could be dumped and, though the DEQ will require the chemicals to be diluted and present below certain levels, he says most of the contaminants are heavy metals with varying levels of toxicity, radioactivity and potential for damage to water quality and human and aquatic health.

But there’s still time to make your voice heard: Click here and email the DEQ’s Beverly Carter and call upon DEQ to protect the James River from toxic releases. Tell them that we need the necessary improvements in this permit before it is issued. Click here for more.

About Andy Thompson

I was the Outdoors Columnist at the Times-Dispatch from 2007 to 2013, writing twice a week about mountain biking, fishing, hunting, paddling and much more. I live a 1/4 mile from the James River, close enough to see bald eagles soaring over my house on their way to find a meal. Pretty cool, eh?