Careful stewardship of resources benefits the environment and helps ensure there is more to go around for everyone. Dominion Energy is finding ways to re-use everything from coal ash to food scraps, applying a zero-landfill policy where we can and applying best practices to waste disposal that cannot be avoided.
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What you should know
We try to create as little waste as possible.
We strive to reuse as much waste material as we can.
When we cannot reuse waste, we dispose of it responsibly.
An important part of sustainability is the reduction of waste and an increase in reuse and recycling. Our strategy is to avoid creating waste whenever possible, and to reuse as much waste material as possible when it cannot be avoided. When we must dispose of waste, we do so responsibly. We monitor and inspect how we and our contractors manage waste at any of our facilities and locations, including audits of final disposal and recycling sites.
Reuse and Recycling
Cove Point Export Project
During construction of our Cove Point Terminal, we recycled nearly 1,500 tons of material at the facility. An existing oyster reef in the Chesapeake Bay was expanded with clean concrete material from project construction and an oyster bar was expanded in the Patuxent River as part of the liquefaction project.
Composting and Recycling at Company Locations
We reduce the waste-to-landfill impact of Dominion Energy’s office facilities through recycling programs and by engaging employees in the process.
We continue our zero-landfill policy for IT by responsibly recycling technology equipment that we no longer use. In 2018, we reused or recycled 109,020 pounds (over 54 tons) of IT equipment instead of sending it to a landfill. The recycling process also led to the recovery of valuable materials, including aluminum, ferrous and copper.
In the summer of 2018, our company launched a corporate composting initiative at select facilities to divert non-recyclable office and food waste from landfills. Beginning at sites with corporate cafeterias, the company collaborated with external partners to collect compostable waste on-site, which is hauled off-site for processing. Portions of the finished compost are provided to our nonprofit community partners, like schools and community gardens, through philanthropic partnerships and volunteer events.
Materials collected include food scraps, coffee products, paper towels, and compostable serviceware products such as cafeteria take-away boxes and cutlery. The program’s launch in Cleveland, Ohio, recovered 2,537 pounds of material in half a year, and our Innsbrook facility in Glen Allen, Virginia, offset 1,820 pounds in its first two months. We also held our first “Zero Waste” Innovation Expo in October 2018.
We’re continuing to expand this program to other company offices in 2019. We expect to offset 50,000 pounds of organic material by the end of 2020.
Several of our power stations produce electricity from recycled biomass fuels. In Virginia, biomass fuel comes from waste wood — specifically, the tree tops and branches left behind in the forests as part of the logging process.
For example, the Virginia City Hybrid Energy Center uses a combination of biomass and waste coal, which makes up nearly 30 percent of its fuel source (approximately 533,000 tons per year). At our Altavista, Hopewell, Pittsylvania, and Southampton Power Stations, biomass accounts for over 99 percent of the facilities’ fuel source.
Coal Ash Recycling
In 2018, we recycled nearly 450,000 tons of coal ash material. This amount is lower than the 500,000 tons recycled last year in part because the amount of material generated was reduced. In 2018, about 19 percent of Dominion Energy’s coal combustion byproducts (CCBs) was beneficially reused.
To learn more about how we repurpose coal ash, click here.
Coal Ash Cleanup
As we use more efficient natural gas and nuclear power, as well as renewable energy, less electricity comes from coal. As of the end of 2018, only 12 percent of our electricity comes from coal. In the meantime, we're permanently closing ash ponds that store coal ash.
We are committed to closing our ash ponds safely and to continue our ongoing responsibility to monitor the sites. In 2018, Dominion Energy worked with legislators, regulators, environmental groups and other stakeholders to craft a coal-ash compromise. It requires the company to remove and recycle or dispose of coal ash from our coal ash ponds at Bremo, Chesapeake, Chesterfield and Possum Point Power Stations in lined landfills. Because the resulting legislation allows for rate recovery, costs are capped on an annual basis to ensure limited impact on customers’ bills. The next step will be to determine a permitting and compliance plan to meet the requirements of the legislation.
Nuclear Waste Management
Dominion Energy produces safe, reliable and carbon-free electricity at its six operating nuclear units at three locations in Connecticut and Virginia.
Uranium fuel at our nuclear power stations is used for three 18-month operating cycles — or about four and a half years in total — before it is permanently removed from service. The used fuel is then stored safely and securely in fortified pools of water where it cools down to a point where it can be placed on-site in dry storage facilities. Both storage methods are safe and secure.
Dominion Energy was the first utility to pioneer dry storage; we began the practice at the Surry Power Station in 1986. The company now operates dry storage facilities at its Surry, North Anna, Millstone and decommissioned Kewaunee Power Stations. The company stores the used fuel in various types of containers designed to isolate the fuel from the public and the environment.
The company’s nuclear stations have programs in place to minimize production of radioactive waste. One component of this commitment involves minimizing the small amount of solid, low-level radioactive waste produced at the stations. The treatment and disposal of this waste is highly regulated by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Low-level radioactive waste is dewatered as needed and packed in robust waste-disposal containers for transport to one of three licensed radioactive waste disposal facilities in the United States.