Arsenic in the water

According to monitoring reports it sends to the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, Albright Power Station in Preston County, W.Va., has been discharging more arsenic than its permits allow into tributaries of Daughtry Run, which flows into Cheat River.

Earlier this week, attorneys for the Appalachian Center filed a federal lawsuit – on behalf of the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy, the West Virginia Rivers Coalition and Sierra Club – asking the courts to stop these ongoing violations.

The power plant, operated by Monongahela Power Co. doing business as FirstEnergy, has permits to discharge limited amounts of pollutants into tributaries of Daughtry Run, but its own discharge monitoring reports show that it has been regularly exceeding the permitted limits of arsenic.

The discharges have exceeded both daily and monthly limits, resulting in 249 days of violations. Penalties for such violations can be as much as $37,500 per day.

Despite the fact that notice of intent to sue was filed more than 60 days ago documenting these repeated violations, neither the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency or the West Virginia DEP have taken any action, nor has the power plant done anything to treat its discharges to remove the arsenic.

In fact, in a response to the notice, the plant indicated that it has no intention of reducing its arsenic discharges but will instead petition DEP to raise its permit limits.? The company has already received special variances, allowing it to pollute additional amounts of selenium, aluminum, and manganese into the waters of Daugherty Run – a high quality stream holding brook trout – than would typically be allowed.? Attorneys for the Appalachian Center will work to ensure that arsenic discharges are kept below the limits in the current permit.

The suit asks for an injunction against future violations and payment of civil fines for past violations.

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