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Dominion improve Clinch River water quality

Published by , Digital Assistant Editor
World Coal,

Dominion is finishing a major clean-up project in Southwest Virginia that will help improve water quality in the Clinch River. Dominion will use 0.5 million t of "gob" coal to make electricity in a state-of-the-art power station.

"This is major environmental success story," said Paul Koonce, Chief Executive Officer for the Dominion Generation business group. "A unique power station is taking a waste product from a century-old coal mine and using it to responsibly make energy for Virginia today. This gob coal piled along the banks of a Clinch River tributary has been polluting the river for decades and desperately needed to be cleaned up. Along with the environmental benefits, our Virginia City Hybrid Energy Center, is helping to keep our electric rates stable and boosting the economy of Southwest Virginia with jobs and taxes."

The Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy (DMME) has long considered the 12-acre Hurricane Creek gob pile site its highest priority for reclamation in the Dumps Creek watershed. In 2014, the federal Office of Surface Mining approved DMME's environmental document for the project and authorised proceeding with the reclamation as part of a larger effort to improve the health of the Clinch River Watershed.

"This abandoned mine land was the largest pollution contributor to the Clinch River," said DMME Director John Warren. "The environment is one of our top priorities. Our Abandoned Mine Land programme group worked diligently to come up with funding to help rid Southwest Virginia of this hazard. We are also proud to be a part of something that will also completely restore the health of the tributary stream, Dumps Creek."

The Hurricane Creek gob pile is located about a half mile from the Clinch River.

Approximately 1 million t of waste coal and rock were removed and properly disposed of as part of this clean up-project, with about 500 000 t of gob coal transported to the Virginia City Hybrid Energy Center (VCHEC) at St. Paul, where it was used to produce electricity.

It is estimated that every year more than 200 t of waste coal from the pile made it into Clinch River for decades. Because of the vast quantity of gob coal at the site and its extremely low Btu content, there was no economically feasible solution to remove the gob until the construction VCHEC with its unique waste-coal burning capabilities.

The Nature Conservancy of Virginia protects more than 35 000 acres in the Clinch Valley and has been working for years to restore the health of the Clinch River and the wildlife it supports.

"The reclamation of the Hurricane Creek gob pile is an important step toward improving water quality in the nationally important Clinch River watershed," said Brad Kreps, director of the Clinch Valley Program for the Nature Conservancy. "Finding creative solutions to address pollution from abandoned mined lands is a crucial part of a larger effort underway to ensure that the Clinch River can provide clean water for the people, wildlife, and the local economies that depend on it."

11 other gob piles in this part of Virginia have already been reclaimed by Gobco, Dominion and DMME.

Edited from press release by

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