First Energy yet to decide whether it will ship coal ash to Hatfield’s Ferry landfill

September 6, 2016
Hatfield’s Ferry Power Station in Monongahela Township, closed since October 2013 - Observer-Reporter Order a Print

With an end-of-the-year deadline approaching, First Energy Corp. said Tuesday it has not decided whether to proceed with a plan to ship coal ash produced by its Beaver County power plant to a landfill at the closed Hatfield’s Ferry Power Station in Greene County along the Monongahela River.

The company must find an alternative coal ash disposal site for its Bruce Mansfield power plant in Shippingport by Dec. 31 under a state Department of Environmental Protection consent agreement to close the plant’s exiting disposal site know as Little Blue Run.

“Hatfield’s Ferry is still one of our options, but we have a couple of others as well,” First Energy spokeswoman Stephanie Walton said Tuesday.

“We are still evaluating a variety of different options,” she said, declining to comment on the alternatives that are still being considered by the company.

First Energy must have a place to dispose of the coal ash from Bruce Mansfield to keep the plant operating. The company proposed shipping the material, which includes coal ash and scrubber waste, more than 100 miles by barge on the Ohio and Monongahela rivers from Bruce Mansfield to Hatfield’s Ferry in Monongahela Township.

First Energy received a minor permit modification from DEP to use the 107-acre Hatfield’s Ferry landfill to dispose of the Bruce Mansfield waste last September.

The company is now completing work on a dewatering plant at Bruce Mansfield to dry the coal ash slurry so it can be transported to another site after Little Blue Run is no longer used in January, Walton said.

Another disposal site the company investigated is the LaBelle Coal Refuse Disposal Area in Luzerne Township, Fayette County.

In June, however, Citizens Coal Council and the owner of the Labelle site, Matt Canestrale Contracting, entered an interim agreement on a lawsuit filed by the council in 2013 under which the company agreed to a one-year moratorium of disposing of coal ash at the site.

The landfill at Hatfield’s Ferry was described by First Energy as a “state-of the art” facility. It has a double synthetic liner, leachate and stormwater collection systems and 14 monitoring wells around the site.

If used, the landfill would be accepting the same material from Bruce Mansfield it received from Hatfield’s Ferry when that power plant was in operation, the company said. The company closed Hatfield’s Ferry in October 2013.

Bruce Mansfield produces about 8,500 tons of coal combustion materials a day. About six barges of the materials would be shipped to Hatfield’s Ferry each day, the company said earlier.

The plan, however, faced opposition. A public hearing on the proposal, held in May 2015, drew strong opposition from area residents.

The Sierra Club also filed an appeal of DEP’s approval of the minor permit modification with the state Environmental Hearing Board. The group maintains DEP should first require the company to clean up existing pollutions at the site before allowing it to bring additional coal waste to the landfill.

That litigation is ongoing, DEP spokesman John Poister said Tuesday.

Bob Niedbala worked as a general assignment reporter for the newspaper for 27 years in the Greene County bureau. He received a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Pittsburgh.

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