The Maryland Department of the Environment has filed suit against an Atlanta-based power company, alleging that its coal-ash landfill in Prince George’s County is polluting groundwater and a nearby creek. The state agency says the Brandywine landfill, operated by Mirant Mid-Atlantic, is allowing coal-ash contaminants to seep into the ground and get into Mattaponi Creek. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Baltimore, comes 60 days after state environmental officials warned Mirant that the company would be sued if it did not agree to clean up pollution from the 300-acre landfill.
Secretary of the Environment Shari T. Wilson said in a statement that her staff has been unable to get Mirant to agree to a timetable for investigating and cleaning up the pollution, nor to come into compliance with 2008 regulations tightening controls on coal-ash disposal. Under the rules, landfills must have liners to keep contaminants out of groundwater, must collect any liquid leaching from the landfill, and must monitor groundwater for possible leaks. The state says about 8.5 million tons of ash from Mirant’s power plants in Southern Maryland have been dumped at the Brandywine landfill over the past 30 years.
This is the second lawsuit brought by the State of Maryland against Mirant over ash disposal. The state sued the company in 2008 in Charles County Circuit Court, alleging that pollutants and heavy metals from its now-closed Faulkner coal-ash landfill were getting into Zekiah Swamp.
State officials filed the Brandywine lawsuit in federal court because the potential penalties are higher under federal law and because they hope to get a quicker resolution there, according to MDE spokeswoman Dawn Stoltzfus. The judge in the Faulkner case hasn’t ruled on the motion by Mirant to dismiss the state’s lawsuit. The state’s action on the Brandywine landfill comes after environmental groups threatened last fall to file their own lawsuit. According to the MDE spokeswoman, the groups – the Patuxent Riverkeeper, the Sierra Club, the Chesapeake Climate Action Network and the Defenders of Wildlife – could join the state’s federal lawsuit.
Source: Baltimore Sun
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