A US federal judge ruled that Dominion has violated the Clean Water Act as the arsenic flow from a coal storage site at Chesapeake Energy Center in Virginia resulted in the contamination of nearby ground and surface water.

However, the judge confirmed that the coal ash stored at the former power plant did not pose any threat to either health or the environment with no evidence to prove that it had impacted any of them.

Giving the energy company a reprieve, the federal court ruled against a cleanup project at the site as demanded by an environmental group.

Sierra Club, the group that had appealed for the removal of ash from the location, could not get what it wanted from the court decision with the judge calling the cleanup operations to be a costly affair.

Further, the court observed that the cleanup project would not have served any public interest while removing the coal ash could take several years of efforts and hundreds of millions of dollars. These, in turn, the court noted could lead to higher electric rates for consumers with the electric utility bound to try its bit in getting back the investment it would have otherwise put into the cleanup program of the contaminated site.

In his judgment, US District Judge John Gibney in Norfolk wrote: “The Sierra Club has not even attempted to itemize the collateral environmental effects of moving this much coal ash.”

The court also did not impose any civil penalties on Dominion.

In a press release, Dominion stated: “Dominion is continuing to evaluate options at Chesapeake Energy Center including removal and beneficial reuse of a portion of the ash. Once a final decision is made we will submit the appropriate applications with the Department of Environmental Quality.

“And, we are evaluating the court’s ruling to determine the appropriate next steps.”

In April 2015, Dominion announced its decision to close all the ash ponds at its power stations in Virginia at four locations including the Chesapeake Energy Center. This, it said was done in accordance with the norms placed by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Coal Combustion Residuals rules.