Virginia Regulatory Town Hall
Natural and Historic Resources
Department of Environmental Quality
State Water Control Board
Petition 385
Petition Information
Petition Title Site-specific aquatic life ambient criterion for selenium
Date Filed 5/4/2023    [Transmittal Sheet]
Petitioner Clintwood JOD, LLC (CJOD)  
Petitioner's Request

On April 25, 2023, Clintwood JOD, LLC (CJOD) petitioned the State Water Control Board (Board) to promulgate a site-specific aquatic life ambient criterion for selenium. Specifically, CJOD formally requests that the Board amend the existing surface water quality criteria for selenium to allow a special standard (9VAC25-260-310) incorporating EPA’s Recommended Aquatic Life Ambient Water Quality Criterion for Selenium in Freshwater, as published in the Federal Register on July 13, 2016 (Vol. 81, No. 134) and revised in August 2021. CJOD requests that the special standard be applicable to the following tributaries to Knox Creek: Race Fork, Pounding Mill Creek, Right Fork of Lester Fork, and Abner Fork. The reaches included in this petition fall within Knox Creek, a sub-watershed of the Tug Fork watershed that encompasses approximately 97.8 square miles of Buchanan County (19% of the county). The Virginia portion of the Knox Creek watershed makes up 6.2 percent of the Tug Fork watershed, with the remainder downstream in Kentucky and West Virginia. 

CJOD currently holds and operates fifteen (15) surface and deep-mining permits in the Commonwealth of Virginia under its Coal Surface Mining Reclamation Regulations (4VAC25-130). Each of these operations is also authorized under an NPDES permit issued by Virginia Department of Energy’s Mined Land Repurposing Division with oversight by EPA. Six (6) of CJOD’s operations are currently permitted to discharge into the reaches defined above, one of which is currently under a schedule of compliance for selenium. As these mining operations are permitted activities that generate its primary source of revenue, CJOD has an interest in the requested action. 

CJOD’s need for the proposed amendment is directly related to the continuation of its mining operations. Virginia’s current water quality criteria for selenium are over 30 years old. EPA’s recommended criteria reflect the latest scientific knowledge and provide a more updated method of evaluating selenium impacts to surface waters. 

Additional considerations when evaluating the requested amendment are standards associated with downstream waters. The most downstream reach requested for consideration is Race Fork. The confluence of Race Fork and Knox Creek is approximately 3.9 stream miles from Kentucky and 11.8 stream miles from West Virginia. Both Kentucky and West Virginia have established aquatic life ambient water quality criteria that were modeled after EPA’s recommended criterion. If the petition is found to be reasonable, they ask that DEQ support utilizing EPA’s criterion with any implementation guidance modeled after the approved West Virginia guidance to provide consistency with the remainder of the watershed as that guidance has been reviewed and approved by EPA Region 3. 

Agency's Plan

A 21-day public comment period is being announced in the Virginia Register of Regulations. Upon completion of the public comment period, the State Water Control Board will consider the petition at a future meeting and decide whether or not to move forward with the rulemaking.

Comment Period Began 6/5/2023    Ended 6/26/2023
Virginia Register Announcement Submitted on 5/4/2023
The Virginia Register of Regulations
Published on: 6/5/2023     Volume: 39  Issue: 21
Agency Decision Initiate a regulatory change [Transmittal Sheet]    
Response Date 8/24/2023
Decision Publication Date Published on: 9/25/2023     Volume: 40  Issue: 3
Agency Decision Summary

Comments were received on the petition and the Board considered those comments.

The State Water Control Board, at its meeting on August 23, 2023, authorized the Department to proceed with initiating a rulemaking to incorporate site specific selenium criteria as a special standard in Virginia's Water Quality Standards regulation (9VAC25-260) consistent with the petition request for the Knox Creek drainage in Buchanan County. 

Associated regulatory action Rulemaking to adopt site specific selenium aquatic life criteria for four streams which are tributaries to Knox Creek in Buchanan County
Latest Stage: NOIRA

Contact Information
Name / Title: David Whitehurst 
Address: 1111 East Main Street, Suite 1400
P.O. Box 1105
Richmond, 23218
Email Address:
Telephone: (804)774-9180    FAX: (804)698-4178    TDD: ()-