Citizen Groups Act to Cut WV State Subsidies to AEP’s Coal Plants

WV has been subsidizing AEP’s John Amos and Kammer coal-fired power stations by allowing the outlaw company to pollute our state’s rivers.  That subsidy got a little smaller a few weeks ago.  Here is the account from the WV Highlands Voice:

American Electric Power and its affiliates have agreed to bring its John Amos power plant in Putnam County, West Virginia, and its Kammer and Mitchell power plants in Moundsville, West Virginia, into compliance with the federal and West Virginia Clean Water Acts.  This is in settlement of a two lawsuits brought by the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy, Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, Sierra Club, and the West Virginia Rivers Coalition. Because some of the facilities were in northern West Virginia and some were in southern West Virginia, there were actually two separate lawsuits although they were negotiated and resolved together.

And

The John Amos power plant in Putnam County discharges into the Kanawha River and two of its tributaries, Little Scary Creek and Bills Creek. As a condition of its permit, it is required to test the water that is leaving its operations and report the results to the WestVirginia Department of Environmental Protection. The reports that American Electric Power has provided to WVDEP for the period from June 1, 2008 through September 30, 2013, from its Putnam County plant show that it has violated the limits set in its permit at least 870 times. The reports showed that at various times the discharged water contained excess amounts of aluminum, iron, copper, arsenic, selenium, and mercury.

There were violations at its Kammer plant in Marshall County as well. There, its discharge reports showed that between June 1, 2008, and September 30, 2013, it had violated its permit limits 157 times. At various times the discharged water contained excess amounts of aluminum, iron, and total suspended solids. These discharges enter the Ohio River.

There were also violations at its Mitchell plant in Marshall County. The reports showed that between June 1, 2008, and September 30, 2013, it violated its permit 1211 times. At various times the water contained excess amounts of aluminum, cadmium, selenium, barium, manganese, nickel, arsenic, thallium, and total suspended solids. Some of the violations were in monitoring wells designed to monitor groundwater near the site. American Electric Power had also discharged water from an ash impoundment which  contained sulfates. These caused a violation of what are called the “narrative” permit conditions. These conditions are statements which describe things someone with a permit may not do.

AEP settled the lawsuit with the four citizens groups.

In settlement of the claims, American Electric Power has agreed to:
•Bring its facilities into compliance. This will require some new equipment and some change in the way AEP does things.  The Mitchell plant must convert its wet coal ash pond to a less polluting dry ash containment facility. The Kammer plant, already tentatively slated for retirement, will now cease operations on December 31, 2015. Both, the Mitchell and Kammer plants must study aquatic life near their coal ash ponds.
•Make a mitigation payment to the West Virginia Land Trust for its land acquisition, restoration and/or conservation activities.
•Pay a civil penalty.
•Pay the Plaintiffs’ attorney fees.
•Agree to pay a set amount for each future violation.
•In total AEP will be required to pay nearly $100,000 in fines, penalties, and fees.

I am always pleased when citizens of WV act to restore law and order in our state when our regulators fail to do their jobs.

3 thoughts on “Citizen Groups Act to Cut WV State Subsidies to AEP’s Coal Plants

  1. This looks like a good example of justice being done. Also, I was hoping to see in the settlement some kind of mechanism to prevent a repeat performance of this story in five or so years from now. What can be done so that all these groups don’t have to expend all that effort again? For example, has some kind of transparency been built into the system? Or some kind of random inspection process? Some other kind of on-going citizen oversight?

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