Residents have had it with a coal waste dump that has damaged their properties and will continue to do so over the next few centuries. Fifteen landowners from Beaver County filed a federal lawsuit on Thursday alleging that the subsidiary, FirstEnergy Generation, and it's mother company, FirstEnergy Corporation, is negligent for land contamination and possible health hazards, among other things.
The Beaver County lawsuit is similar to one that was filed in Wheeling, West Virginia in October. Like the West Virginia lawsuit, the Beaver County lawsuit will seek monetary compensation for people for damages caused by contaminating substances, such as sulfates and arsenic, in and around their properties. When contacted for a statement on the issue, the FirstEnergy spokesperson declined to comment.
The Beaver County residents will seek compensatory damages which they say will allow them to uproot and move away from the life-threatening contamination. Residents have cited that they are well aware that although the effects my not be felt by the contamination right away, future generations of their families will likely be detrimentally affected in the years to come. In addition, residents also claim that because of the contamination, their property values have exponentially diminished.
The dump in question, Little Blue Run coal waste, takes in coal debris and ash from up to seven miles away at the Bruce Mansfield power plant in Shippingport, PA. The Mansfield power plant is the largest electrical power plant in the state and one of the largest in the entire United States.
Investigators who have examined Little Blue Run say that the 1700-acre impoundment holds enough coal ash to cover nearly 63,000 acres of land if it were spread out and layered one foot deep. To compare, the city of Pittsburgh, alone, is only a little more than 37,000 acres.
FirstEnergy Generation, LLC, the subsidiary of FirstEnergy Corporation that runs Little Blue Run coal waste, recently settled a Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PaDEP) lawsuit last year by agreeing to halt usage of the unlined reservoir by the end of 2016 because they became aware of the dangers and potential lasting effects. FirstEnergy's plan to close the waste dump include letting the liquid waste harden, then covering it many layers of construction-durable plastic, some type of breathable cloth, and fresh soil. However, this process will take at least fifteen years to complete and will not be finished until after 2032.
Investigators have also said that the groundwater in the area will be contaminated for a very long time and that the peak of that contamination will take place in another seventy to one hundred years when current residents' grandchildren and great grandchildren would likely be living on the property. Residents say that they are aware that subsidiaries like FirstEnergy Generation are started as a way for giant energy conglomerates like FirstEnergy Corporation to spread liability around, but that they will not back down without a fight.
Source: Trib Live, "Beaver County residents sue FirstEnergy Corp. over coal waste dump" 5 December 2013