Monday, May 24, 2010
A group of four environmental groups has issued notice that it intends to file suit against RRI Energy for breaking state and federal pollutions laws at its Seward Generating Station in Indiana County. The groups – Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future (PennFuture), Defenders of Wildlife, PennEnvironment, and Sierra Club – say the facility has racked up 12,000 violations in the last 5 years. RRI upgraded the power plant to burn waste coal in 2004 and the groups say that since the power plant was dubbed a “clean coal facility” it has never had a month when it is in compliance with the federal Clean Water Act, the Pennsylvania Clean Streams Law, and the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. The groups say the violations include toxic coal ash leaks and direct discharges into the Conamaugh River. They say the plant has also violated laws that limit changes in river temperatures due to water discharges. Federal law requires that any group or individual looking to file such a suit issue 90 and 60-day warnings. A spokesperson for the company says they have just received the letter and are in the process of reviewing it before making any comment. Neither the federal government nor state regulators have issued fines for the violations that have been documented at both levels. The suit is being filed under a rarely used clause that allows individuals and organizations to act as citizens attorneys general if they feel a law is not being enforced. Lawyers for the groups involved say more of this type of suit may be filed soon. They say studies of other plants have shown similar violations that are not being punished by state and federal agencies.