FirstEnergy’s Little Blue Run lake in Pennsylvania and West Virginia is the target of pending litigation saying the company violates federal and state laws.
Little Blue Regional Action Group, formerly known as Citizens Against Coal Ash, along with attorneys from Environmental Integrity Project and Public Justice, announced Wednesday they intend to file a lawsuit focusing on the 1,700-acre Little Blue Run site for FirstEnergy’s Bruce Mansfield Plant.
The groups say the largest coal-ash pond in the United States “seeps, and direct discharges of toxic pollution from the Little Blue Run impoundment violate both federal [the Clean Water Act and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act] and state [Pennsylvania’s Clean Streams] law.’’
FirstEnergy spokesman Todd Schneider said the company had not yet seen the notice, so could not comment on it directly. However, Schneider said the company is “compliant with all state and federal operating permits and authorizations.”
The groups say FirstEnergy has “misrepresented the amount of toxic waste it is releasing from the impoundment in violation of federal right to know laws.”
The coal ash and other waste produced by the plant is sent via a seven-mile pipeline to the Little Blue Run site.
“There is no barrier at Little Blue Run to prevent pollution in the coal ash from reaching groundwater. The Little Blue Run coal ash dump site is classified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as ‘high hazard,’ meaning a breach of the impoundment’s dam would cause ‘probable’ loss of about 50,000 human lives. Well over 20 billion gallons of coal ash are being held back from the Ohio River — a major drinking water source for downstream communities — by only an earth and rock dam. The Bruce Mansfield Plant in Pennsylvania churns out almost 850 million gallons of coal ash annually,’’ according to the groups’ press release.
FirstEnergy’s Schneider said: “Currently, groundwater conditions are sampled, monitored and analyzed quarterly at 42 groundwater monitoring wells, 22 surface water monitoring points and eight domestic water wells. Additionally, samples from numerous springs near Little Blue Run are collected and analyzed on schedules that range from monthly to twice a year. We also test additional private drinking water wells on an annual basis and upon the request of residents.
“Based on the extensive testing we have done, Little Blue Run has not caused any residential drinking water wells to exceed government mandated levels for public drinking water supplies. The company’s sampling program has been in place for decades to ensure there are no adverse impacts on the local community,” he said.
Betty Lin-Fisher can be reached at 330-996-3724 or email@example.com. See all her stories at www.ohio.com/betty