Brunner Island power plant owners agree to $1M penalty, coal ash cleanup

York

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – The owner of the Brunner Island Generating Station in York Haven has agreed to reduce toxic pollutants leaking from coal ash dumps into groundwater and the Susquehanna River, four environmental groups announced Wednesday.

A consent decree filed in U.S. District Court in Harrisburg requires Talen Energy to close and excavate one ash pond, monitor and address leakage of pollutants from other waste sites, pay a $1 million civil penalty, and contribute an additional $100,000 to fund other projects to reduce local water pollution, The Environmental Integrity Project said in a news release.

The Environmental Integrity Project represented the Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper Association, Waterkeeper Alliance, and PennEnvironment in a notice of intent to sue Talen Energy for violating the Clean Water Act last year.

The groups say the coal ash waste ponds are not lined to prevent leakage, and a coal waste landfill is not working adequately to prevent leakage.

As a result, they say high levels of toxic metals and other pollutants have been found in the groundwater around Brunner Island and in the river and a tributary called Black Gut Creek.

“They depicted high levels of arsenic, which is a cancer-causing heavy-metal,” Lower Susquehanna riverkeeper Ted Evgeniadis said. 

Six of seven coal ash waste ponds on the island have been closed. The consent decree requires Talen Energy to close its remaining ash basin, and the company must excavate all waste from the site by December 31, 2031. 

“Outside of my role as a riverkeeper, I do recreate, I do fish this river, so knowing that this river is healthy is absolutely 100% important for me and obviously community members around,” Evgeniadis said.

In a statement, Talen Energy said it is “committed to complying with all environmental regulations and will continue to focus on the safe, efficient and reliable operation” of its plants. 

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