Several activists arrested at DEQ headquarters during coal ash protest

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- Environmental activists staged a sit-in at the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality's headquarters demanding the agency repeal permits related to releasing coal ash wastewater into the state's rivers.

Richmond Police spokesman Gene Lepley said 17 protesters were charged with trespassing and released Monday. The protest was organized by the Virginia Student Environmental Coalition.

“Our goal was to stay until our demands were met, and David Paylor refused to even speak with us. I was arrested because I believe that politicians should be accountable to people, not corporations. Today, Director Paylor demonstrated that the DEQ prioritizes Dominion’s profit over the public’s health,” said Kendall King, VSEC Coalition Chair.

DEQ has been under fire from environmental groups and other for issuing a permit to Dominion Virginia Power to discharge treated coal ash waste- and stormwater into the James and Potomac Rivers.

Coal ash is the potentially toxic legacy of decades of coal-fired energy.

Dominion says the water will be treated and groundwater will be monitored.

Eight people were arrested last month at a similar protest at the Capitol.

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