Power Pact Provisions Explained
FirstEnergy will pay $50,000 to settle suit
Morgantown Dominion Post
4 May 2012
By Michelle Wolford
KINGWOOD — A settlement between FirstEnergy and environmental
groups over alleged arsenic discharge at the company’s Albright
Power Station requires a $45,000 payment to the Morgantown office
of an international organization for a solar research project.
The payment will go to The Mountain Institute, which is focused on
protecting mountains. Another $5,000 is to be paid to the U.S.
Treasury for violations of the federal Clean Water Act.
The settlement is intended to resolve a lawsuit filed by the West
Virginia Highlands Conservancy, Sierra Club and the W.Va. Rivers
Coalition against FirstEnergy — also known as MonPower — last year
over arsenic discharges in excess of the plant’s West
Virginia/National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System
(WV/NPDES) permit. The arsenic is coming from the plant’s ash
disposal facility, according to the suit.
The agreement also calls for FirstEnergy to shut down the Albright
plant by Sept. 1, which the company has already said it will do,
“barring only the WV Public Service Commission ordering them not
to,” West Virginia Sierra Club spokesman Jim Sconyers said.
FirstEnergy spokesman Mark Durbin said the $50,000 settlement is
not an admission to any of the suit’s allegations, “but is
intended simply to end the litigation prior to the plant shut down
in September. At that time, the plant will not be producing any
more coal combustion by-products, so there will be no disposal or
discharge issues going forward.”
Sconyers said any changes at the federal level will have no impact
on the company’s obligation to shut down the plant. The company
announced in February that the cost to retrofit three West
Virginia power plants, including Albright, to comply with the
Environmental Protection Agency’s Mercury and Air Toxics was
prohibitive. The MATS regulations are to take effect in 2015 and
are aimed specifically at power plants.
Other terms of the agreement:
The company cannot bring ash from any other facilities, and can
dump ash only from the Albright plant until the completion of
Arsenic discharges from the ash pond must be brought into
compliance with its WV/NPDES permit. Failure to do so will result
in monetary penalties.
“West Virginia Sierra Club is glad to see Albright’s arsenic
pollution of the Cheat River addressed once and for all. Arsenic
is an extremely toxic pollutant,” Sconyers said. “We’re also
hopeful that Mon Power’s decision to close the plant will go
hand-in-hand with a renewed commitment by the company to energy
conservation programs. Conservation has the potential to meet
electric demand without new and hugely expensive plants, while
providing good jobs for workers. And we encourage Mon Power to
implement its upcoming demolition of the plant with the health and
safety of the community foremost in its plans.”
“From the beginning, we have denied being out of compliance,
arguing all along that [the West Virginia Department of
Environmental Protection] erred by setting arsenic discharge
limits that were too high,” Durbin said. “Our intent was to work
through the DEP administrative process rather than through the