State to Sue Mirant for Coal Combustion Byproducts Pollution at Chas. Co. Plant

BALTIMORE (January 3, 2011) - The Maryland Department of the Environment on Monday issued separate Notices of Intent to Sue Mirant Mid-Atlantic, LLC and Mirant Maryland Ash Management, LLC in federal court for water pollution violations at two of Mirant's sites for disposal of coal combustion products in Maryland: the Westland site in Montgomery County and the Faulkner site in Charles County.

In April of this year, MDE filed suit in federal court for similar violations at Mirant's coal combustion products disposal site in Brandywine, Maryland.

The violations at the Faulkner site are presently the subject of a pending action in State court. However, because all three cases involve common issues of fact and law, MDE has moved to withdraw the State court action in order to consolidate the cases in federal court.

MDE intends to file suit against Mirant in federal court seeking injunctive relief and civil penalties for violations of the Clean Water Act and the Maryland water pollution control law for unauthorized discharges of pollutants to navigable waters of the United States, unauthorized discharges of pollutants to surface waters, and unauthorized discharges of pollutants to groundwater at the Westland and Faulkner disposal sites.

MDE's investigation has revealed that Mirant has continued to dispose of coal combustion waste in unlined landfills, where pollutants leach or are otherwise discharged into the groundwater and surface waters. MDE alleges that these illegal discharges to groundwater and surface water constitute significant and ongoing violations of state and federal water pollution laws, contaminating the groundwater and surface waters of the State of Maryland, thereby causing an adverse impact on the environment.

Residents who live near the Westland, Brandywine, and Faulkner disposal sites should note that based on current and historical sampling data from on and around all three sites, ground and surface water contamination does not appear to pose an immediate risk to public health.

In December 2008, MDE enacted new State regulations requiring leachate collection, groundwater monitoring, liners, and increased analysis for all coal combustion byproduct disposal facilities, as well as annual reporting. New coal combustion byproducts disposal sites must meet stringent permitting requirements to ensure their safe disposal.

Source: Maryland Department of the Environment

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