Virginia Governor Tim Kaine recently announced the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality will begin a systematic review of older industrial facilities and power plants that may be violating health-based air quality standards in the state. The Governor made the announcement at Dominion Virginia Power’s Chesterfield Power Station, one of the three facilities identified by the DEQ to undergo this review process first, along with American Electric Power’s coal-fired power plant in Glen Lyn, Giles County, and the MeadWestvaco paper mill in Covington, Alleghany County.  The DEQ said it plans to conduct the same review for other, so-called “grandfathered” sources in the future. 

 The federal government sets “national ambient-air quality standards” for several air pollutants, including ozone and soot, or particulate matter. Both of these pollutants are linked to health risks, including lung disease and heart disease; children and the elderly are especially vulnerable. The federal government also designates areas that fail to meet the standards.  Once designated as an ozone or particulate matter “nonattainment” area, those areas and the state must meet certain deadlines and measures for cleaning up the air.

The Northern Virginia area is currently designated as nonattainment for both pollutants. Under the Environmental Protection Agency’s new ozone standards last year, and based on the state’s own recommendations, the Fredericksburg, Richmond and Hampton Roads areas will be designated in nonattainment for ozone.

For more, visit the Southern Environmental Law Center