Energy company agrees to fines for coal ash -- Gazette.Net



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The operator of coal-fired power plants in Prince George’s, Montgomery and Charles counties has agreed to clean up ground and surface water pollution associated with storing ash from those plants and to pay more than $2 million in fines.

Under a consent decree pending in U.S. District Court, Houston-based GenOn, which merged in December with Princeton, N.J.-based NRG, would pay $1.9 million in fines to resolve past violations of the Clean Water Act and would pay the Maryland Department of the Environment set penalties for any future violations of the act or the decree.

The agreement would settle complaints that MDE filed against GenOn for allowing pollutants, including toxic chemicals, to leach into groundwater.

The pollution stems from ash stored in GenOn landfills at North Keys Road in Brandywine, Martinsburg Road in Dickerson and Faulkner Road in Faulkner. The ash came from coal burned at nearby GenOn power plants.

The federal court could alter terms of the consent agreement offered by MDE and GenOn before issuing an order.

Under the proposed consent decree, GenOn would have to determine levels of contamination, clean up the sites and improve practices so that affected ground and surface waters comply with discharge regulations.

On Monday, several environmental groups that had announced their intent to sue over pollution from the Brandywine landfill said they support the settlement but will ask the federal court to go further and require GenOn to comply with safeguards in order to dispose of coal ash in new “cells” at the site.

Meanwhile, Prince George’s Circuit Court has entered a consent decree between MDE and GenOn that requires GenOn to curb runoff from its Brandywine landfill and pay a $300,000 penalty for damage from coal ash that has run into surface waterways.

David Gaier, spokesman for NRG, did not return a call seeking comment.

Jay Apperson, spokesman for MDE, said the order hasn’t been officially entered yet, so the department has no comment.

mhyslop@gazette.net