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Power Plant To Pay Fine, Clean Up Coal Ash Along Susquehanna

Scott Lamar
The Susquehanna River.

Environmental advocates and an energy company said Wednesday they reached an agreement to clean up and stop pollution from a coal ash waste site on the Susquehanna River in southcentral Pennsylvania.

The settlement requires Talen Energy Corp. to pay a $1 million civil penalty to the state and remediate contamination at the Brunner Island Steam Electric Station facility in York Haven.

The company also must track and fix seepage from coal ash storage.

The consent decree is among Allentown-based Talen, the Department of Environmental Protection and three environmental groups. It is subject to a federal judge's approval.

"Those of us who use and enjoy the lower Susquehanna River can rest easier tonight, knowing that concrete measures and timelines are in place to reduce toxic pollution in the river," said Ted Evgeniadis, the Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper, one of the plaintiffs.

The Department of Environmental Protection called it the largest civil penalty for coal ash in state history.

"We are confident that the work to be performed as spelled out in this consent decree will be for the betterment of all involved — the environment and area residents," said Environmental Protection Secretary Patrick McDonnell.

Talen senior vice president Debra Raggio said the company was pleased with the agreement.

"Talen is committed to complying with all environmental regulations and will continue to focus on the safe, effective and reliable operation of our plants," Raggio said.

The complaint filed Wednesday in federal court in Harrisburg alleges the Brunner Island operation has discharged into the river and its tributaries arsenic, boron, lithium and other chemicals.

The plaintiffs say the seeps have been sending pollutants into the Susquehanna for many years.

The agreement also requires Talen to contribute $100,000 for projects that will improve local water quality.

The Brunner Island electrical generation site, which opened in 1961, is located in York County, about 15 miles southeast of Harrisburg. It currently burns both coal and natural gas.

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