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FirstEnergy, Beaver County residents reach agreement in Little Blue Run lawsuit

| Monday, Feb. 9, 2015, 5:12 p.m.

A group of Beaver County residents reached a settlement in a federal lawsuit that claimed the Little Blue Run coal waste dump damaged their properties and will continue to for decades, according to federal court records.

A similar lawsuit in West Virginia is scheduled for trial in January.

In the Pittsburgh lawsuit, U.S. Magistrate Judge Cynthia Reed Eddy on Monday entered an order halting the case based on lawyers for both sides reporting they've reached an agreement.

Little Blue Run, a holding pond, accepts coal slurry piped seven miles from the Bruce Mansfield power plant in Shippingport.

FirstEnergy Corp. of Akron, Ohio, owns the facilities.

Lawyers in the Alabama firm representing the residents couldn't be reached for comment. FirstEnergy disputes the claims made in the two lawsuits but has reached an agreement with the Beaver County residents, FirstEnergy spokeswoman Stephanie Walton said.

She said terms of the agreement are not finalized.

FirstEnergy settled a Department of Environmental Protection lawsuit in 2012 by agreeing to stop using the unlined holding pond by Dec. 31, 2016. The company's closure plan includes letting liquid waste harden, then covering it with layers of high-density plastic, cloth and soil.

The lawsuits in Beaver County and West Virginia claim that water leaching through the coal waste carries arsenic, sulfates and other contaminates to surrounding properties.

In the West Virginia case, a status report filed by both sides says the company has reached an agreement on all 16 claims from Pennsylvania and one from West Virginia, but 38 claims in West Virginia are pending.

Brian Bowling is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at 412-325-4301 or bbowling@tribweb.com.

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