A Baltimore judge has given his approval to a $54 million settlement between residents of Gambrills and a subsidiary of Constellation Energy. The residents claimed in a lawsuit last year that Constellation Power Source Generation contaminated their water supply by dumping coal ash near their homes for more than ten years. The company deposited millions of tons of ash from two of its Anne Arundel County power plants into two Gambrills quarries from 1995 until last year. Last year, Constellation paid a $1 million fine as part of a consent decree with the Maryland Department of the Environment.
Constellation dumped tons of its fly ash, the by-product of coal combustion at power plants, into two former gravel mines in Gambrills as a way to dispose of the material and reclaim land. But the liners failed several years ago, and dozens of wells around the pits were found to have high levels of metals that could cause cancer and other health problems. Some wells have elevated levels of arsenic. The power company’s coal fly ash left many wells undrinkable.
The settlement creates a $10 million compensation fund for the 84 affected properties and will pay for property damage or physical harm caused by the fly ash pollution. Residents have 120 days to file claims to receive compensation. The settlement also provides public water connection to 79 properties, which Constellation said would be done by 2010.
Constellation also must perform $10 million in environmental repairs at the dump site, though the power company has been required to do so under a Maryland Department of the Environment order. In that case, Constellation and the mining company had to pay $1 million. Constellation also must stop dumping fly ash at the site, though the company halted dumping in 2007. No new fly ash dump sites are allowed in Anne Arundel pursuant to a new county law passed this year.
Source: Associated Press
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