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.