Defendant owned a commercial property adjacent to the plaintiff’s business in Chesapeake. As part of the construction of a new motel, the defendant dumped toxic coal ash along both sides of the property line. Here, the defendants spread coal ash up to six feet onto the plaintiff’s property.
Coal ash is the by-product of burning coal in energy production. “Fly ash” is a fine powdery ash that flies up into the smokestacks and collected. “Bottom ash” consists of elements too heavy to fly away and is collected in containers below the burning coal. In the process of burning away the coal, normally trace toxins are concentrated in both the fly ash and bottom ash. This concentration of toxins makes coal ash a hazardous and highly toxic industrial waste.
Scientific testing on the coal ash on the plaintiff’s property confirmed the presence of heavy metals: arsenic, barium, boron, cadmium, chromium (VI), cobalt, copper, lead, mercury, nickel, vanadium and zinc. Also found were persistent organic pollutants, polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons and substituted chlorinated dioxins and dibenzofurans, which are known carcinogens.
In addition to trespass claims, the plaintiff alleged that the defendants violated even the current industry-friendly and minimal restrictions Virginia places on coal ash dumping. Here, plaintiff alleged the defendants dumped coal ash with less than two feet of vertical separation between the coal ash and the maximum seasonal water table and/or bedrock, dumped coal ash within 100 feet of plaintiff’s existing well and dumped coal ash within 25 feet of plaintiff’s property. In fact, the defendant dumped coal ash directly upon the plaintiff’s property.
The parties settled the case for $200,000. This is the first known coal ash contamination settlement of its kind in Virginia.[13-T-041]
Type of action: Environmental
Injuries alleged: Trespass, coal ash dumping
Name of case: Jones v. South Hampton Holdings, LLC, et al.
Court: Chesapeake Circuit Court
Case no.: CL10-601
Verdict or settlement: Settlement
Attorney for plaintiff: Ted G. Yoakam, Virginia Beach
Attorney for defendant: Andrew D. Kubovcik, Chesapeake