First Energy finds new site for coal ash disposal from Bruce Mansfield plant

First Energy Corp. has found a new site to dispose of coal ash from its Bruce Mansfield Power Plant in Beaver County and no longer intends to proceed with a plan to ship the materials to a landfill at its shuttered Hatfield’s Ferry Power Station along the Monongahela River in Greene County.

FirstEnergy Corp.’s closed Hatfield’s Ferry Power Station on the banks of the Monongahela River Photo:Observer-Reporter

First Energy Corp. has found a new site to dispose of coal ash from its Bruce Mansfield Power Plant in Beaver County and no longer intends to proceed with a plan to ship the materials to a landfill at its shuttered Hatfield’s Ferry Power Station in Greene County.

The company had been considering shipping the coal ash and scrubber waste to the landfill at Hatfield’s Ferry – located across the Monongahela River from Masontown – and earlier received a permit for the plan from the state Department of Environmental Protection.

The company announced Tuesday, however, it will instead ship the materials by barge 77 miles down the Ohio River from the Shippingport plant to a Marshall County Coal Co. mine reclamation site in Moundsville, W.Va.

The landfill at Hatfield’s Ferry will continue to be considered as a “back-up site,” should any issues arise regarding use of the Moundsville property, First Energy spokeswoman Stephanie Walton said Wednesday. The company is considering Hatfield’s Ferry as a back-up to give it “as much flexibility as possible” in ensuring the Bruce Mansfield plant can remain in operation, she said.

First Energy was required to find an alternative ash disposal site for Bruce Mansfield by Dec. 31 under a DEP consent agreement to close the plant’s exiting disposal site known as Little Blue Run.

The company held a public hearing in May 2015 on its plan to dispose of the ash at Hatfield’s Ferry. The plan was strongly opposed by local residents. The Sierra Club, in addition, filed a legal challenge, citing allegations of existing pollution at the Hatfield’s Ferry landfill.

The disposal of the materials at the Moundsville mine reclamation site owned by the Marshall County Coal Co., a subsidiary of Murray American Energy, is considered a “beneficial reuse” of the materials, the company said.

“Selection of this site means that 100 percent of the coal combustion residuals created at the Bruce Mansfield Plant will now be sustainably recycled or beneficially reused,” First Energy senior vice president Don Moul said in a release announcing the new disposal plan.

“After thorough consideration, the company determined that this option provided the most environmentally sustainable and cost-effective solution,” he said.

About 80 percent of Bruce Mansfield ‘s coal waste will be used for mine reclamation, while the remainder will continue to be recycled into drywall by National Gypsum in Shippingport.

The Moundsville site is already permitted by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection for the reuse of coal combustion waste materials.

West Virginia supports the beneficial reuse of the material and thousands of acres of former mines across the state have been successfully reclaimed under West Virginia DEP’s oversight, the company said. The materials are designated as a non-hazardous material by state and federal environmental protection authorities.

First Energy plans to begin shipping the materials to the Moundsville site, about four or five barges a day, in December.

Tom Schuster of the Sierra Club said his organization will continue its appeal of the DEP permit issued for Hatfield’s Ferry. In regard to the new plan, he said, the organization intends to review it and is concerned that the use of the material for mine reclamation could also lead to pollution leaching offsite.

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