Months after the owner of a coal-fired plant agreed to a 10-year plan to only burn natural gas in effort to reduce air and water pollution, the same plant finds itself facing threats of legal action by environmentalists who allege that it is contaminating the Susquehanna River.
Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper and the Environmental Integrity Project have warned Talen Energy about toxic pollutants from ash and waste pits located at the Brunner Island Generating Station in York County. There is evidence the contaminants are working their way into the Susquehanna River.
This warning could eventually force federal environmental regulators to become involved. Individual citizens are permitted to file lawsuits for purposes of demanding compliance with the federal Clean Water Act, so long as they provide 60 days of notice of their intent to take legal action. During this period, the plant has the opportunity to address these concerns.
Experts say the river now has elevated levels of arsenic, boron, sulfate, and lithium in a creek and groundwater springs that flow into the Susquehanna about 50 miles upstream of the Chesapeake Bay, near to the plant. The Susquehanna River is responsible for more than 90 percent of fresh water in upper sections of the Chesapeake Bay. As such, it has the potential to spread pollution to large areas of the population.
Environmental experts believe that the high levels of toxins found in the Susquehanna “could only be explained by leakage” from storage systems. The issue may be the fact that the Brunner Island plant is failing to contain the ash and waste by holding them in ponds and landfills that are not properly lined and therefore not preventing leakage into the groundwater. There are deep concerns that should there be a disaster, only one earthen berm is currently holding back more than 3 million tons of ash and other waste.
As part of a recent settlement with the Sierra Club, the plant’s three coal-fired powered units will cease burning coal by the end of 2028. The agreement was made without any admissions of wrongdoing on behalf of the plant. Rather, plant officials said they agreed to cut coal burning to avoid the cost, delay, and uncertainty of litigation. In turn, the Sierra Club agreed not to join any legal actions or public criticisms surrounding the plant.
Despite the steps being taken, many do not believe that the settlement has gone far enough when it comes to minimizing the plant’s impact on the environment. This is evidenced by the most recent allegations against the plant. A message must be sent that environmental laws are in place for a reason, and violations will not be tolerated.
If you believe that you have witnessed a violation of the Clean Water Act, or if you suspect your water may be contaminated, do not delay. Call the Pennsylvania environmental lawyers at Williams Cedar at 215-557-0099 to arrange a free consultation or contact us online. From our offices in Philadelphia, and Haddonfield, New Jersey, we represent clients across Pennsylvania, South Jersey, and nationwide.