January 14, 2013
In a victory for Maryland communities and waterways, the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) filed a consent decree in federal court requiring utility company GenOn to clean up widespread ground and surface water pollution at three of its coal ash disposal sites. MDE and environmental groups have accused GenOn of illegally discharging toxic pollution into groundwater and local waterways at the Faulkner Landfill in Charles County, Brandywine Landfill in Prince George’s County, and the Westland Landfill in Montgomery County.
The consent decree is the result of an MDE enforcement prompted by a notice of intent to sue letter for violations of the Clean Water Act at the Brandywine Landfill filed by the Environmental Integrity Project and the University of Maryland Environmental Law Clinic on behalf of Defenders of Wildlife, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Patuxent River Keeper, and Sierra Club.
The consent decree requires GenOn Mid Atlantic to pay a civil penalty of $1.9 million to MDE. GenOn is also required to clean up existing contamination of ground and surface water, use the best technology available to clean up discharges from the site and take other remedial actions to prevent further contamination. Additionally, they will be required to evaluate whether nearby drinking water wells have been impacted by pollution at the sites and, if so, take action to clean up contamination.
GenOn must also submit a plan to control fugitive coal dust that can fly off their sites and lodge in people’s lungs causing respiratory illness.
The groups intend to file a statement with the court supporting the settlement, but will ask the court to strengthen the consent decree by requiring GenOn to comply with minimum safeguards, including a requirement to obtain permit, if it wants to dispose of coal ash in new disposal cells at the Landfills.
For the press release, click here.
For the consent decree, click here.