Akron-Based FirstEnergy Faces Suit for Pollution of Groundwater, Ohio River From 1,700 Acre Coal-Ash Pond
The largest coal-ash pond in the United States – the 1,700-acre Little Blue Run impoundment site in Pennsylvania and West Virginia for FirstEnergy’s Bruce Mansfield Plant – is the focus of litigation to be filed by Little Blue Regional Action Group, formerly known as Citizens Against Coal Ash, along with attorneys from Environmental Integrity Project and Public Justice.
According to the notice of intent (NOI) filed by LBRAG: Leaks, 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. The notice letter also alleges that FirstEnergy has misrepresented the amount of toxic waste it is releasing from the impoundment in violation of federal right to know laws.
Among the issues the groups are alleging in the NOI are that:
- FirstEnergy’s unsafe disposal practices at Little Blue have contaminated surface and groundwater with boron, manganese, sulfate, arsenic, and other pollution in violation of federal waste laws;
- FirstEnergy is discharging selenium and boron from Little Blue directly into the Ohio River at levels that are toxic to fish and other aquatic life, in violation of the terms of the energy company’s Clean Water Act permit. For example, actual loadings of selenium are at least 2.5 to 5.5 times higher than the levels the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection determined could be toxic to fish. Boron concentrations just downstream of the Little Blue River impoundment exceeded water quality criteria every quarter for the last five years of available data;
- FirstEnergy is discharging arsenic, boron, sulfate, manganese, iron, and other pollution to groundwater in violation of the Pennsylvania Clean Streams Law; and
- FirstEnergy has misreported or failed to report to the EPA thousands of pounds of toxic releases from the Impoundment, keeping private information that is required to be posted for the public.