Saturday, July 03, 2010

Mirant's Coal Combustion Waste Landfill Challenged By State

The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) filed a complaint in March in U.S. District Court against Mirant Maryland Ash Management, charging thta its Brandywine Coal Combustion Waste Landfill is polluting local waterways. MDE claimed it found high levels of pollutants, including arsenic, cadmium and selenium, in ponds that eventually discharge into the Mataponi Creek. The creek flows into the Merkle Wildlife Sanctuary, which then flows into the Patuxent River. MDE also argued in its complaint that Mirant not only violated its permit by allowing pollutants to discharge at high levels, but also failed to disclose many of the pollutants involved in its discharge permit applications.

Mirant filed a motion June 21 to dismiss charges it violated the federal Clean Water Act, arguing that:

MDE failed to provide enough proof of Mirant's alleged pollution to merit charges,
The company was and still is in compliance with its permits,
The company did disclose all of the pollutants,
MDE failed to follow the proper procedures for filing a lawsuit under the Clean Water Act.
MDE failed to meet its burden by not specifying when most of the alleged illegal discharging took place, where and how it happened, and at what levels.
MDE plans to file a response by the July 21 deadline set by the court; a federal judge is scheduled to rule on Mirant's motion September 8.

The Brandywine landfill stores the waste byproducts of coal combustion from Mirant's Chalk Point Generating Plant in Aquasco, Maryland. Coal combustion waste byproducts have been stored at the landfill since 1970. The landfill features four disposal sites for waste byproducts; three were constructed before Mirant bought the site and do not have special liners to prevent pollutants from seeping into groundwater, according to MDE's complaint. The fourth disposal site is the only one still in use and does have the protective liner.

MDE is pursuing its case against Mirant with assistance from several environmental advocacy groups, including the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Defenders of Wildlife, EarthReports Inc., Patuxent Riverkeeper and Sierra Club. (, 7/2/2010)

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