Judge Rules GenOn Liable for Clean Water Act Violations at Coal Plant in Pennsylvania
June 9, 2011
GenOn has agreed to pay a record $5 million to settle its lawsuit with Sierra Club and PennEnvironment over Clean Water Act violations at its massive coal-fired Conemaugh Generating Station. Once approved, the settlement will help support environmental cleanups in the Conemaugh River watershed, and represents the largest penalty in Pennsylvania history against a polluter under the citizen enforcement provision of the federal Clean Water Act.
March 22, 2011
On March 21, Sierra Club and PennEnvironment achieved a monumental legal victory when a federal judge ruled that the GenOn Northeast Management Company was liable for thousands of Clean Water Act violations at the company’s coal-fired power plant, located on the banks of the Conemaugh River near Johnstown, Pennsylvania.
Sierra Club and PennEnvironment filed a federal lawsuit against GenOn (then known as Reliant Energy) back in 2007, alleging illegal discharges of potentially toxic metals into the Conemaugh River from the company’s coal-fired Conemaugh Generating Station. The environmental groups alleged that GenOn has been in continuous violation of its Clean Water Act wastewater discharge permit, discharging more than three million gallons of wastewater per day that contain elevated levels of selenium, manganese, aluminum, boron, and iron, into the Conemaugh River.
In his ruling, Magistrate Judge Robert C. Mitchell in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania found that the environmental groups’ evidence clearly indicated that the discharge of toxic chemicals posed a potential threat to human health, wildlife and water quality. Judge Mitchell ruled that GenOn has committed 8,684 violations of the Clean Water Act, dating back to 2005. The company’s potential legal exposure for these violations is nearly $300 million, based upon the court’s ability to assess penalties of up to $37,500 for each violation.
Details and Documents:
Judge Rules GenOn Liable for Over 8,500 Environmental Violations at Conemaugh Power Plant
March 22, 2011, PennEnvironment et al. Press Release
Magistrate Judge's Memorandum & Order
March 21, 2011, U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania
GenOn to pay $5 million Conemaugh pollution settlement
June 6, 2011 by Don Hopey, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
See other "Retiring Old Coal" cases.