Charles City County, VA -- Yesterday, the Virginia State Water Control Board voted to approve a permit that will allow the Chickahominy Gas Plant to withdraw up to 30 million gallons a year from the Potomac Aquifer. At the last minute, the Board also changed the type of permit being granted from a ‘special’ permit to a standard one, a move that left the public without adequate time to consider and respond to the implications of that change.
The Board okayed the permit in spite of close to 1,400 public comments expressing concerns with the fracked gas plant’s threats to public safety and its environmental impacts, which include major water depletion and increased risk for contamination. Many comments also critiqued the absence of any environmental justice assessment given that the plant will be sited in a low income, majority-minority area.
The Potomac Aquifer provides water to the most populated areas of Virginia, meaning potential pollution would impact the majority of Virginians. In spite of widespread resistance, the Board still bowed to corporate pressure and voted to imperil the health and safety of Virginians.
“This vote is a slap in the face to the residents of Charles City County, and to all Virginians who rely on the Potomac Aquifer for clean drinking water,” says Jolene Mafnas, Virginia organizer for Food & Water Action. “This is an environmental justice calamity, and a classic case of a board that should do all it can to protect the communities in the state it serves, but instead has chosen to take the easy way out and side with corporate interests. Profit should never take priority over human health. We will keep fighting against the Chickahominy Gas Plant so that Charles City County, an EJ community, is not forced to house a polluting and unnecessary fossil fuel project, especially considering another massive plant, C4GT, is being proposed for construction just a mile away.”