Bremo Power Plant opens doors to show water treatment facility

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FLUVANNA COUNTY, Va. (NEWSPLEX) -- On Tuesday morning, Dominion Power representatives opened the doors of Bremo Power Station to show off the new water treatment facility to members of the media. If the facility passes inspections Tuesday night, it will start pumping treated coal ash pond water into the James River on Wednesday morning.

"We won't start anything until we are absolutely sure that the water quality meets our standards, which have gone above and beyond the regulations that were set for us," said Jason Williams, a Manager in Dominion Power's Environmental Group.

The cleaning strategy is broken into multiple parts. The first part is taking the raw ash pond water and putting it into a large container. That container is then filtered with air, which allows small particles and pollutants to be floated to the top and collected.

Then the PH level of the water is raised to help remove additional pollutants.

The remaining water is then sent to another barrel where it is cleaned and treated. After that, the water is sent to another large vat, where it waits to be tested before being sent down the pipe into the James River.

"There is a lot of testing," said Williams. "There is a third party group that will be doing the testing, and we will be posting the results of those tests online for everyone to see."

Williams also said, if for some reason the water doesn't meet the level of clean Dominion is striving for, the water will be sent back for more treatment.

Although Dominion says this is the strictest cleaning regulations it has ever done, some people across the area aren't impressed.

"We still don't believe that they are able to get out all the heavy metals by the time it reaches the river," said Marion Kanour, Founder of the Knitting Nannies of Virginia. "That's why we are going down to the James River tomorrow to have a funeral. A funeral for the river."

One of the main pollutants that multiple environmental agencies have brought up in the past is arsenic. Previously, many groups were mad because the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality set the acceptable level of arsenic at a much higher level than other states were able to do.

"In North Carolina, they were able to get it as small as 13 parts of arsenic per water unit," said Pat Calvert, the Upper James River Keeper. "Here in Virginia, they are calling for about 500 units of arsenic."

When asked about the levels of arsenic Dominion Power was planning on allowing, Williams wouldn't directly comment, but did say that they were going to be a lot lower than what the DEQ permit required.

"We are doing our best to ensure that the water is protective of the James River," said Williams. "After all, we live here too. I take my kids out on the James all the time."

Kanour says that draining the water isn't the smartest decision, and that there are other ways to get rid of it.

Kanour and other will be at the James River near Bremo Power Plant around 10 a.m. Wednesday to protest the opening of the water valves.

Dominion says it is aware of the protest, and just hopes everyone can remain peaceful.

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