What’s at Stake
A Pennsylvania coal plant installed pollution controls that will lead to cleaner air emissions—but much dirtier water discharges. The wastewater is laden with heavy metals including arsenic, cadmium, mercury, selenium, copper, hexavalent chromium, lead and thallium that are toxic to people as well as fish and wildlife.
Reducing air pollution from coal-fired power plants is an absolutely essential environmental aim, but it’s a red herring if the pollutants just end up in another waste stream. At the Hatfield’s Ferry coal plant in Pennsylvania, new air pollution scrubbers remove pollutants from the plant’s smokestack emissions, but Allegheny Energy Supply Co.—the plant’s owners—propose to dump the scrubber waste into the local Monongahela River.
This wastewater is laden with heavy metals including arsenic, cadmium, mercury, selenium, copper, hexavalent chromium, lead and thallium that are toxic to people as well as fish and wildlife. Cleaning up air pollution should not come at the cost of polluted water.
On behalf of conservationists and local citizens, Earthjustice is participating in administrative appeals of the Clean Water Act permit that was issued by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to Hatfield's Ferry.
After 40 years without effective pollution controls, a scrubbing system was recently installed at the Hatfield’s Ferry power plant in Masontown, Penn., limiting the amount of sulfur dioxide and other pollutants the plant pumps into the air. But the plant’s failure to install a scrubbing system for its discharged wastewater means that the dangerous pollutants that formerly fouled the air are now being dumped into the Monongahela River, a drinking water source for more than 350,000 people living south of Pittsburgh.