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Environment & Energy

Southwestern PA Coal Waste Dump to Close

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A federal judge has signed off on a deal for FirstEnergy Corp. to close a coal slurry dump along the Pennsylvania-West Virginia border in about four years. The Little Blue Run dump in Beaver County collects slurry pumped from the Bruce Mansfield coal-fired power plant, about 35 miles northwest of Pittsburgh. Once closed, the dump will stay in place, but no additional waste will be added.

“It’s something we have to do additional monitoring to ensure there isn’t any potential groundwater impacts, we have to submit a closure plan as far as Little Blue Run, by the end of March next year,” said Mark Durbin, FirstEnergy Spokesman.

As far as what happens to waste coming out of the coal plant after 2016, Durbin said options are being examined, but no plans are in place. It had previously been announced the company would replace Little Blue Run with a lined depository that will keep the pollutants from getting into the groundwater. The current dump doesn't have a lining because that wasn't required when it opened in 1974.

Durbin said there is an extensive groundwater testing program in place at Little Blue Run with 42 different groundwater monitoring wells, 22 surface water monitoring points, and 8 different domestic water wells that are sampled every month to a few times a year.

First Energy is paying an $800,000 DEP fine and must submit a plan by March 31 to close the dump, and stop pumping waste into it by the end of 2016. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection sued to get the consent decree.