Pennsylvania Orders $169 Million Clean Up of Coal Ash Pond in Western Pennsylvania

On April 3, 2014, Pennsylvania announced the final cleanup plan for the thousand-acre Little Blue Run Coal Ash Impoundment in Greene Township, Beaver County, southwest of Pittsburgh.

The cleanup is the result of a consent decree that followed the Environmental Integrity Project’s (EIP) notice of intent to sue First Energy Generation LLC on behalf of the Little Blue Regional Action Group for contaminating surface and groundwater near the site, and incorporates many of the recommendations EIP made during the public comment period.  The coal ash impoundment serves the Bruce Mansfield power plant.

The agreement prohibits any more disposal at this impoundment after 2016, and requires First Energy to post a bond of $169 million to cover the cost of :

• Adding and monitoring toxic pollution at more than 220 new wells, bringing the total to more than 300;
• Identifying and stopping surface water seeps;
• Controlling particulate emissions that blow off the site;
• Installing a geotextile liner and an additional geocushion membrane layer to cover the thousand acre site, followed by soil and replanting;
• Removing standing liquid behind the dam to reduce runoff; and
• Cleaning up contaminated groundwater to federal and state health based standards.

The bond will be adjusted upward as needed to pay for any increase in the cost of these closure and cleanup requirements. All cleanup work is supposed to be completed by 2028 (twelve years after the site stops accepting waste), but there is no end date to the consent decree. It will remain in place as long as the groundwater monitoring data shows evidence of contamination.

For the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s press release, click here.