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FirstEnergy to pay $50K to end W.Va. lawsuit

Associated Press Modified: May 1, 2012 at 1:15 pm •  Published: May 1, 2012
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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — FirstEnergy said Tuesday it will pay $50,000 to settle a federal lawsuit brought by three West Virginia environmental groups accusing the utility of arsenic pollution from a coal-ash dump at its Albright power plant.

The Ohio-based utility and its Mon Power subsidiary don't admit to any of the allegations, said spokesman Mark Durbin, but they have agreed to end litigation over the plant that's set to shut down Sept. 1.

The Sierra Club, the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy and the West Virginia Rivers Coalition sued FirstEnergy and its Mon Power subsidiary in May 2011 over the site, located above the Cheat River in Preston County.

The lawsuit said the utility should be fined nearly $9.4 million for federal Clean Water Act violations that the groups said were harming three trout and recreational streams that flow into the Cheat River.

Mon Power has denied being out of compliance and said the state Department of Environmental Protection has never enforced the permit standards it was accused of violating.

On Monday, U.S. District Judge Irene Keeley granted a joint motion that the proceedings be put on hold while the formal terms of the settlement are put in writing. The proposed consent decree was not on file with the court Tuesday, but Durbin said it will require FirstEnergy to pay $45,000 to The Mountain Institute and $5,000 to the U.S. Department of Justice.

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