HOOKSTOWN (KDKA) — Little Blue is a two-square mile lagoon containing untold tons of coal combustion waste, and folks who live nearby say it’s made their lives a misery.
“You’re homes are worth nothing. It smells. It blows dust. It’s just foul,” Mary Harman, a West Virginia resident, said.
The state Department of Environmental Protection has long heard the concerns, and on Thursday they took bold action, ordering Little Blue shut down, drained, capped and covered.
“This is a major, major move on the part of the department,” said John Poister, of the DEP.
Under the order, Little Blue will need to stop taking waste from FirstEnergy Bruce Mansfield Plant at the end of 2016.
FirstEnergy will then be required to begin to encapsulate and cover the entire 100-acre site, a process that will take 12 years.
In the meantime, FirstEnergy will be required to implement controls for odors and noise and to contain and monitor any seepage from the site.
To ensure that all the work is done, the energy company must post a financial insurance bond of $169 million.
“Which will guarantee that the work will continue to be done until there is no more environmental problem at that site,” said Poister.
Many residents have legal actions pending against FirstEnergy, claiming adverse health effects and contamination of ground and well water.
They have been fighting to have Little Blue cleaned up for decades.
“I don’t think it should be later. It should be now,” said Harman.
Residents who have been fighting Little Blue for decades say they are optimistic about the plan, but won’t comment until they’ve had time to review.
Meanwhile, they vow to keep fighting Little Blue until it’s drained, capped and gone.