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Agreement reached to close Beaver County coal waste impoundment

| Monday, Dec. 17, 2012, 11:16 a.m.

U.S. District Judge Nora Barry Fischer on Monday approved an agreement between state environmental regulators and an Ohio-based utility to close a coal waste impoundment in Beaver County that has contaminated surrounding ground water.

FirstEnergy Corp. of Akron, Ohio, will stop pumping coal waste slurry from the Bruce Mansfield power plant into Little Blue Run, Greene Township, by the end of 2016, replace water supplies for nearby homes and set up water and air monitoring to detect any further releases. The company will pay an $800,000 fine for violating Pennsylvania's Solid Waste Management Act.

The 38-year-old impoundment covers 1,700 acres and was built before state and federal regulations required a liner that would have blocked arsenic and other contaminants from leaching into the groundwater.

In response to public comment, the Department of Environmental Protection added several conditions to the agreement, including the air monitoring provision and a set of fines ranging from $5,000 to $25,000 daily if the company fails to meet various parts of the agreement.

The company has to present the state with its plan for closing the impoundment and preventing further leakage by March 31.

Brian Bowling is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-325-4301 or bbowling@tribweb.com.

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