Lawsuits: Virginia utility built golf club with toxic ash

A filing from owners is the latest alleging that toxic coal ash was used to build the facility.
By Matt Bradwell  |  Dec. 12, 2014 at 1:26 PM
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CHESAPEAKE, Va., Dec. 12 (UPI) -- The owners of a Virginia golf club have sued the state's largest utility, accusing it of using toxic coal ash to build the facility.

CPM Virginia, owners of the Battlefield Golf Club in Chesapeake, are the latest to sue Dominion Resources over the development. CPM's claim, filed in a Virginia circuit court, said the group partnered with the utility 15 years ago to use the 216-acre planned golf course to help manage its "enormous quantities of coal ash that need to be disposed of or used."

Working with CPM, which successfully managed a safe coal ash disposal site on a golf course development project in Pennsylvania, Dominion used 1.5 million tons of coal ash to build Battlefield's fairway and greens between 2002 and 2007.

"Dominion provided assurances that the environmental reports indicated that there was no risk of environmental contamination with toxic or hazardous chemicals," CPM claims in the suit.

CPM says it grew increasingly concerned as Dominion repeatedly refused to disclose copies of internal environmental studies on the site.

An outside contractor, URS Corp., was brought in to test the groundwater supplying nearby residents and found over twice the amount of arsenic safe for drinking, high levels of chromium, lead, beryllium, manganese and zinc that would contaminate area drinking water "for 200 years or more."

"The two URS studies gave Dominion actual, constructive and/or superior knowledge that the coal ash contained hazardous substances that would contaminate the property," the suit claims.

In addition to the latest round of legal action, URS's findings triggered years of personal health lawsuits, including one suit covering 400 Chesapeake residents.

That suit was dismissed in 2009, but was refiled with new evidence three years later.

Many of the lawsuits remain outstanding.

Construction worker Neil Wallace also sued Dominion, claiming working on the golf course caused him to develop kidney cancer. That was suit was also dismissed, a decision Wallace is appealing.

"I never expected this ... to last as long as it has," Oliver Griffin, one of the residents named in the lawsuit, noted in 2013 -- four years after the legal action first began.

"I thought it was an open-and-shut case."

Dominion Resources could not be reached for comment.

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