Threat Of Suit Brings Plant To End Water Violations At Coal Plant
Pittsburgh, PA. – Exactly 57 days after receiving NELC’s 60-day notice of intent to file an enforcement suit, RRI Energy and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection worked out a plan to eliminate numerous sources of toxic discharges from the Seward Generating Station, a coal-burning power plant that sits on the banks of the Conemaugh River in western Pennsylvania.
In the notice, sent on May 24 on behalf of four environmental groups, NELC informed RRI Energy that the groups intended to file suit to address approximately 12,000 violations of the federal Clean Water Act, the Pennsylvania Clean Streams Law, and federal hazardous waste law stemming from toxic pollutants flowing into groundwater and into the Conemaugh River from buried coal refuse piles.
Houston-based RRI (formerly known as Reliant Energy), one of the nation’s largest providers of electricity and energy services, has touted the Seward Generating Station as a “clean coal” plant because it burns so-called waste coal left over from decades of mining activity .
“If 12,000 environmental violations over the past five years is considered’ clean’ coal, I’d hate to know what the industry considers ‘dirty’ coal,” said David Masur, Director of PennEnvironment, one of the plaintiff groups. “It took the threat of citizen enforcement to finally get the company and the state to live up to their legal responsibilities.”
Under the state-approved plan, RRI must immediately close one outfall responsible for discharging illegal levels of metals and acidity, and has four years to identify and remediate all other sources of illegal pollution from its leaking coal refuse pile.
NELC attorneys previously filed suit against RRI for persistent violations of the Clean Water Act at the Conemaugh Generating Station, another power plant located just downstream of the Seward facility. That suit is ongoing.