Share This Page

Conemaugh River power plant agrees to $5M pollution settlement

A power plant company will have to pay about $5 million for polluting the Conemaugh River, according to environmental groups that announced the settlement today.

A subsidiary of GenOn Energy Inc. will have to pay -- mostly for watershed restoration and preservation projects -- for dumping wastewater full of chemicals and other toxics from its generating station in Indiana County. The coal-fired plant in West Wheatfield is liable for more than 8,600 violations of the Clean Water Act and could have paid a civil penalty of more than $325 million, according to a federal judge's ruling in March.

PennEnvironment and the Sierra Club accepted the settlement -- which also covers more than $1 million of their legal fees -- to end more than four years of litigation and ensure millions could be devoted to helping the long-troubled Conemaugh, said one of their attorneys, Josh Kratka. The environmental groups and a Fairfield resident had to file the suit because state regulators had reached an agreement with the company that allowed it to keep polluting, they said.

"While this historic penalty will send a strong message to other companies in Pennsylvania and throughout the region, it is equally important that the company is now committed, at long last, to complying with its legal discharge limits and to reducing its pollution of the Conemaugh River," PennEnvironment director David Masur said, reading from a prepared statement during a press conference on the North Shore. "This was a David-and-Goliath-style fight -- and the Davids were able to deliver a critical victory to the people of Pennsylvania."

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.