These Farmers Are Leading the Way to a Saved Bay
"Wham-Bam Double Win!" and Other Reactions to Coal-Plant Decision

Judge and County Side Against New Coal Power Plant

A double-dose of good news regarding a coal-fired power plant proposed by the Old Dominion Electric Cooperative (ODEC) for the Town of Dendron in Surry County, Va.:

Last Thursday, a Surry County circuit court judge threw out the town’s rezoning and conditional use permit granted to ODEC last year because, the judge said, Dendron had not properly given public notice to the community before town council members voted on the issue.

The ruling is a significant victory for Michael Drewry and other nearby property owners who challenged the town’s February 2010 decision, contending Dendron had not followed state-mandated public notice procedures in granting ODEC’s rezoning request to build the giant power plant. Dendron and ODEC attorneys had argued that Drewry and his fellow citizens lacked standing, or the legal right, to challenge the town in court and that, regardless, no breach of public notice procedures had occurred.

In his ruling last week, Circuit Judge Samuel Campbell rejected both arguments and voided the rezoning and conditional use permit. Unless overturned on appeal, ODEC and Dendron must start the land-use process for the plant once again.

“This is a significant victory for citizens and due process, given the considerable hardship incurred challenging a well-funded corporation that has consistently defended a clear violation of public notice requirements,” said Drewry said in response to the judge’s decision.

Also last Thursday, the board of supervisors of adjacent Isle of Wight County voted to formally oppose construction of the power plant, which if built would be the largest coal-fired plant in Virginia. 

The 3-1 vote (with one abstention) by the supervisors came two years after Isle of Wight was rebuffed by Surry and Dendron to delay all decisions on the plant until an independent study is done to determine the plant’s likely health and environmental impacts. Isle of Wight was among the first nearby localities to raise concerns.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) also has serious concerns about building the $6 billion, 1500-megawatt plant. In a report last May, CBF detailed the significant human health risks associated with the increased mercury, soot, and smog pollution the plant would produce. The CBF report also cited the plant’s additional nitrogen and green house gas pollution that would present significant impediments to Chesapeake Bay cleanup efforts and future economic development in Hampton Roads.

Nitrogen pollution is a chief cause of algae blooms and subsequent dead zones that appear annually in the Bay and throughout Hampton Roads waterways, harming crabs, oysters, and fish and the businesses depending upon them. 

Chuck Epes
Chesapeake Bay Foundation


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Nice work on this everyone. We live downwind of that potential coal plant, so we truly appreciate all of the hard work fighting it! Keep it up!

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