Home Letters To The Editor Peter Schmidt: Marketeer of Hazardous Fly Ash?

Schmidt is also the owner of Southern Aggregate Corporation, located on the grounds of Virginian’s Dominion coal-fired power plant.  “Agglite”, is a Chesapeake based company that utilizes fly ash.  It was Schmidt’s Agglite Corporation that aggressively pursued the use of fly ash in place of dirt for fill projects.  

In 1996, Agglite provided the fly ash to build a half-acre oyster reef in the Chesapeake Bay; a half an acre is about the size of a football field including the end zones.  The reef is made of golf ball size pellets comprised of 85% to 90% fly ash and 10% to 15% cement.  A scientist from Virginia Institute of Marine Science stated that fly ash oyster reefs could provide young oysters with a place to live, but diseases would prevent them from reaching market size.

In 2002 Agglite sold1.5 million tons of fly ash to build the 217-acre Battlefield Golf Club in Chesapeake, Virginia.  This is one of the largest ash reuse projects of its kind in the nation. A 60 Minutes investigative report that aired Sunday, October 6, 2009 on CBS reveals that, prior to construction a Dominion Power executive told the Mayor of Chesapeake that they (Dominion) were in full compliance with all federal and state regulations.  Two years later, an internal study of the golf course is performed recommending that the workers use impervious gloves and use filtering respirators to avoid potential health risks. A matter not discussed with the families who live there.

Chesapeake City consultants found high levels aluminum, arsenic, lead and other contaminants in the water underneath the golf course.  Arsenic levels are more than eight times and lead levels more than five times the municipal drinking water standards. The 60 Minutes investigation shows homeowner families filling bottles of water, at a city provided site, for potable home use.  This Battlefield Golf course site is now on the EPA's Superfund program.  There is a lawsuit filed by 400 surrounding Battlefield golf club residents asking for more than $1 billion in damages and Dominion has promised $6 million to extend residents’ water lines outside of the current dangers.

Schmidt denies any conflict between his position as DEQ director and his fly ash related business ventures.  In fact, if you go to his political web site, his company, Agglite, is not mentioned.  One has to ask, why an individual would be endorsed by the Serra Club and touted as "A citizen who demonstrates that a growing economy and an improving environment go hand-in-hand", unless the economy and the environment we are talking about belongs solely to Peter Schmidt.


Fly Ash  -- References:

"As fly ash piles up, the challenge for safe disposal rises." Web

"A Burning Issue"

"Chesapeake to extend public water to fly ash site"

"Clearing the Air"

"Coal Ash: 130 Million Tons of Waste"

"Heavy Metal Toxins Found in the Water Surrounding Chesapeake Golf Course Could Pose Risk to Residents"

"Study Seeks to Revive Oysters with Reef Made From Coal Dust"

"Water tests completed near Chesapeake's fly-ash golf club"

Rachel West - Virginia Beach


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