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Michelle Christian

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Too much Dominion power

Georgia Geen

1

Dominion protestors in downtown Richmond, VA. Photo by chesapeakeclimate.org

The James River has had its share
of trials with pollution throughout
its long history; unfortunately,
that story hasn’t concluded.
In April, Dominion Virginia Power
was granted a permit to release
200 million gallons of coal
treatment wastewater into the
James, from a temporary plant
in Fluvanna County. What else
could be expected from a state
that’s second in the nation for
water pollution?
The James River isn’t only a
popular recreation center for
many throughout Richmond and sur-
rounding counties, it’s also home to
a plethora of aquatic species.
Using the river as a dumping
ground for industrial waste is a bla-
tant disregard for the importance
the James River has held in Rich-
mond’s long history and that which
it continues to hold today. Before
the Civil War, Richmond was a
highly-used port city, all thanks to
the James River. The culture of the
city developed around it and this
aspect of the river should be valued.
The state of Virginia needs to
take more extensive steps to pro-
tect the James from industrial pol-
lution. When the deal was being
reached surrounding the permit to
release the wastewater, it was indi-
viduals who stood for higher regu-
lation of the levels of pollutants,
not the state. Instead of worrying
more about the profits of corpora-
tions like Dominion, Virginia needs
to find a balance between the two
sides.
Although the settlement doesn’t
restrict the levels of pollutants, it
states that Dominion must take ac-
tion once they reach a certain level.
While this seems like a reasonable
compromise, it still doesn’t change
the fact that removing pollutants
from bodies of water is oftentimes
next to impossible. For instance, af-
ter years of pollution of the Shenan-
doah River in the mid-twentieth
century, fish cannot be eaten from
a 100-mile stretch of the region.
In addition, in a statement from
the Department of Environmental
Quality, Bill Hayden stated that the
bulk of the monitoring will be the
responsibility of Dominion, not the
state. Should a private business re-
ally be trusted to monitor the pol-
lution levels in Virginia’s most im-
portant river, when less treatment
of the water is more profitable?
Members of the James River As-
sociation still feel that the pollut-
ants, including arsenic, lead and
chromium, pose a threat to citizens
in surrounding areas. Regardless
of the impact that this particular
round of pollution might have, it
poses the danger of instigating mo-
tivation from other companies to
do the same. The James River is al-
ready at a high risk of irrecoverable
damage and Dominion’s dumping
of wastewater is a step backwards
for both conservation efforts and
the City of Richmond as a whole.

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