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Millions poured into water treatment plant at Possum Point

- A $35-million-dollar water treatment system separates Quantico Creek from the arsenic and lead found in the untreated coal ash water at Possum Point Power Station.

Home improvements that should pay off in the long run

- Sell or stay, these home improvements pay off in the long run.

Service Authority set to begin Willowbrook water main replacement

- The Prince William County Service Authority will participate in Woodbridge District Supervisor Frank Principi’s Town Hall Meeting at Potomac View Elementary School to discuss the Service Authority’s upcoming Willowbrook Water Main Replacement Project on May 3.

Stewart to run for governor

- Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart told The Associated Press on Saturday that he plans to launch an official campaign in October.

Proposed New 230kv Power Lines Meeting Tonight

- The final local State Corporation Commission (SCC) Hearing for the Dominion power line and substation is tonight.

‘You won’t believe your skies’

- Fly high with the free 2016 Manassas Regional Airport Airshow and open house on May 7.

PWC Arts Council seeks next poet laureate

- The Prince William County Arts Council is seeking its next poet laureate.

Battlefield slides past rival Pioneers, 3-2

- In a matchup for both Conference 8 standings position and local bragging rights in western Prince William, the Battlefield Bobcats edged the Patriot Pioneers by a score of 3-2 on Patriot's softball diamond in Nokesville on April 22.

Battlefield puts the Hamric down on Broad Run

- Junior midfielder scores three goals, adds assist.

Hot Bobcats Swamp Jackets

- Two of the area's better high school lacrosse squads squared off April 22 in Manassas when the Osbourn Park Yellow Jackets hosted the Battlefield Bobcats.

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Millions poured into water treatment plant at Possum Point

Part of the $35 million coal ash water treatment system at Possum Point Power Station in Dumfries. Photo by Hillary Chester.
A $35-million-dollar water treatment system separates Quantico Creek from the arsenic and lead found in the untreated coal ash water at Possum Point Power Station.

“Until you see the whole process, I don’t think you will understand what we’re trying to accomplish,” said Chet Wade, the vice president of corporate communications at Dominion Virginia Power before a tour of the system Tuesday morning.

The company invited the media and Eileen Thrall, the head of Friends of Quantico Bay, to tour the Dumfries station to see how the system works on Tuesday, May 3.

A sign with the slogan “Safety and awareness never take off days” greeted visitors to Dominion Virginia Power’s 650-acre station.

Tour visitors met with Dominion staff, piled into three vans to travel the gravel roads to the station’s coal ash ponds.

Possum Point Power Station, which sits on a point of land between the Potomac River and Quantico Creek, switched from burning coal to natural gas in 2003. The leftover ash is mixed with water and held in ponds.

Dominion, along with other power companies across the United States, is working to close its coal ash ponds by 2018. The Environmental Protection Agency is requiring the ponds to be closed following two major coal ash spills into rivers in North Carolina and Tennessee.

“We invited you here because we want to be transparent,” said Cathy Taylor, Dominion’s senior environmental and sustainability advisor.

Wearing bright yellow vests and white or orange hard hats, the group listened to Taylor and staff amid the acrid smell and machines.

The $35-million-dollar system is set up along Pond D, the largest of the five coal ash ponds at the station.


Pond D at Possum Point Power Station. Photos by Hillary Chester.

“It’s very important to us that we do this right,” Taylor said. She added that Dominion lives in the community too and keeping Quantico Creek safe is important to them as well.

The machines pull water, both surface and core water from deep within the pond, from all five ponds and run it through a series of filtration systems. The entire system is approximately 900 yards long and features a tanks of all different shapes and sizes.

The first stop on the tour was to see a “science experiment,” with according to Dominion Environmental Manager Jason Williams.


Cathy Taylor and Jason Williams tell the group about the system.

The demonstration showed how in a beaker how a coagulate and a polymer, both biodegradable substances, combine to separate the coal ash sediment from the water. The demo used a control beaker without the coagulate and polymer and an experimental one with the substances. Both beakers contained water and coal ash from Pond E.


A Dominion Virginia Power staff member gives a demonstration on how part of the water treatment system works.

“This is a very common tried and true technology,” said Williams who added that this system is one of many steps in the process and is used in other types of water filtration.

After the experiment, the tour walked to four green rectangular aeration tanks. Williams said that water from the ponds is pumped into the tank. Once inside, air is blown through water to help the particles become sediment.

Next, the pH will be adjusted by decreasing the acidity of the water. The next step to cleaning the water involves adding the coagulate and polymer.

From there, water is pumped into tanks for filtration. The tanks contain large bags called Geotubes. Water can pass through the Geotubes unheeded, but solids, like arsenic and lead, cannot.


A Geotube in its tank.

Once they are full, Dominion will transport the Geotubes to the King George Landfill in King George, Va.

The water that passes through the tubes will undergo additional filtration and tests before it makes its way to holding tanks.


Holding tanks for the treated coal ash water.

The water will stay in the tanks until the test results say that it meets the levels mandated by the permit. Any water that doesn’t meet the standards undergoes a second round of treatment.

If the water meets the standards, it will be released into the creek.

Before the water is released into Quantico Creek the two third party state verified consultants check the water to see if it meets the particle trigger levels and the Virginia Department of Environmental Equality’s permit levels. Crews from Dominion, GAI Consulting, the third party independent consultant, and Pace Analytical Services, the third party lab, will be on site 24 hours a day, seven days a week.


A Dominion Virginia Power worker shows a sample of treated coal ash water. The sample was taken directly from the pipe behind him.

Cleaning all the surface water will take between 45-60 days according to Williams. There will be an additional 270 days to dewater the ponds. He said Dominion will continue to treat the water in the ponds until liner caps on the ponds are in place.

The company’s plan is to move the remaining 200,000 cubic yards of coal ash from ponds A, B, C, and E to Pond D once the dewatering process is complete.

Once the high density polyethylene caps, commonly known as a clay cap, are in place, two feet of soil and vegetation will cover it. The caps are expected to be in place by April 2018.

All five ponds will be monitored for groundwater leaks following the closures. Pond D will be monitored the longest, 30 years, as it will be the only pond still containing ash.

“This is very impressive,” said Thrall.

Dominion is still in the process of testing to ensure that the system works.

The company hopes to begin the dewatering process, releasing up to 2.8 million gallons of filtered water into Quantico Creek on Monday, May 16.

Williams and other Dominion staff said the discharge of water will not affect the creek levels.

Currently there are more than 200 million gallons of water in the five ponds.

Approximately 16-20 members of Dominion’s staff will be on site for each two 12 hour shift during the dewatering process.

GAI Consulting will collect samples of the filtered water every hour. Pace Analytical Services will then analyze the samples. The results of the tests will be published online for public view at www.dom.com/coalash.
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Millions poured into water treatment plant at Possum Point

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