Sierra Club Challenges Utility’s Plan to Haul Coal Ash on Rivers
23 October 2015
By Don Hopey
A FirstEnergy Corp. plan to use barges to haul coal ash 113 miles
up the Ohio and Monongahela rivers jeopardizes the rivers and
nearby residents, according to the Sierra Club, which is appealing
the company’s state permit.
FirstEnergy would transport the coal ash from the Bruce Mansfield
power plant in Beaver County to its landfill near the shuttered
Hatfields Ferry power plant in Greene County.
The appeal of the state Department of Environmental Protection
permit issued a month ago was filed Thursday with the Pennsylvania
Environmental Hearing Board by Earthjustice, an environmental law
firm based in Washington, D.C., that is representing the Sierra
“We have some problems with the shipping process, which involves a
lot of risk to the rivers and the people who live along the
rivers,” said Charles McPhedran, an Earthjustice attorney, who
added that in July the groups also appealed DEP’s decision to
reissue the expired permit for FirstEnergy’s Greene County ash
Stephanie Walton, a FirstEnergy spokeswoman, said the company is
reviewing the Sierra Club objections and would respond during the
appeal process. She noted that the permit to use the Greene County
landfill remains in effect but that the barge shipments would not
begin until January 2017.
That’s when the Akron-based electric utility company is required
by a federal consent order to close its 40-year-old Little Blue
Run ash impoundment — the largest in the U.S. — in part because
that unlined facility, which straddles the Pennsylvania-West
Virginia line, is seeping pollutants and has contaminated
groundwater and surface water in Beaver County.
The Sierra Club objects to FirstEnergy’s plans to move the Bruce
Mansfield ash to the Greene County landfill because that facility
has also leaked and contaminated groundwater.
“The landfill at Hatsfields Ferry is a proven damage case with
documented instances over the last decade of pollutants from the
landfill leaching into the groundwater,” said Tom Schuster, who
heads the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign in Pennsylvania. “And
He said arsenic, a carcinogen that can also cause liver, kidney
and nervous system damage, has been found in monitoring wells
around the Greene County ash disposal site in concentrations up to
342 times the legal limit for drinking water.
FirstEnergy’s Bruce Mansfield coal-fired power plant in
Shippingport is the largest in the state. It burns about 7 million
tons of coal a year, and produces between 2.5 million and 3.5
million tons of coal ash and smokestack scrubber waste. The
company is building a $200 million facility to remove water from
the ash slurry and a river terminal to load the ash and waste
materials onto barges.
Don Hopey: 412-263- 1983, firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter