Coal Tattoo

Pa. orders Little Blue Run coal-ash dump closed

Just two months ago, we wrote about citizen groups threatening to sue over the FirstEnergy Corp. Little Blue Run coal-ash impoundment near Chester, W.Va. Now, we have this news:

On Fri­day, the Penn­syl­va­nia Depart­ment of Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion filed a law­suit and con­sent decree in fed­eral court seek­ing to shut down a coal ash dump on the bor­der of Penn­syl­va­nia and West Vir­ginia. First Energy’s Lit­tle Blue Run coal ash impound­ment pond in Beaver County takes toxic sludge from the company’s Bruce Mans­field coal burn­ing power plant in Ship­ping­port, Pa.

Prob­lems with the pond, which encom­passes almost 800 acres on a 1700 acre site, date back to the 1970’s. The unlined impound­ment has resulted in leaks of heavy met­als such as arsenic and sele­nium, caus­ing dam­age to drink­ing water sup­plies and nearby sur­face water.

“This proac­tive move is aimed at address­ing com­pre­hen­sively for the future long-standing mat­ters about the Lit­tle Blue Run impound­ment,” DEP Sec­re­tary Mike Krancer said in a state­ment. “We believe this will not only make major strides in envi­ron­men­tal projects for that area, but also bring peace of mind to many res­i­dents who have expressed con­cerns about the Lit­tle Blue Run impoundment.”

The Akron Beacon Journal explained:

The company’s announcement comes in the wake of a federal court filing on Friday by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection against the unlined 1,700-acre impoundment next to the Ohio River on the Pennsylvania-West Virginia border.

The state had filed the first-ever state lawsuit against a coal ash operator for causing what was called potential “imminent and substantial endangerment” to human health and the environment from the largest coal ash impoundment in the United States.

A FirstEnergy subsidiary, FirstEnergy Generation Corp., must finalize a closure plan for the impoundment by March 31 and the water-storage area must close by Dec. 31, 2016, said spokesman Mark Durbin.

The company will pay an $800,000 fine to the state under a proposed consent decree, he said.

The company will also be ordered to analyze and clean up contaminated water surrounding the impoundment.

Public Justice lawyer Richard Webster, who represents citizens on the issue, aid:

PADEP has recognized that FirstEnergy’s disposal of wet coal ash into a huge unlined lagoon has caused major environmental problems, despite existing state regulations. We are pleased that PA DEP has recognized the problems and started to make FirstEnergy solve them.