By Andy Sheehan

HOOKSTOWN (KDKA) — From the air it looks benign, but for years folks living nearby have contended that the Little Blue coal ash impoundment is contaminating their ground water.

The state Department of Environmental Protection now agrees that water seeping from the lagoon has created that potential and has ordered the owner, First Energy, to it shut down.

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“We’re so grateful that they’ve finally acknowledged that there is contamination in Little Blue and that First Energy needs to be responsible to stop it, to clean it up,” said Marcia Hughes of Hookstown, Beaver County.

The ash which is pumped into Little Blue from First Energy’s coal fire power plant in nearby Shippingport contains contaminants like arsenic, selenium and chlorides.

The power company has long contended there is no evidence of ground water contamination but the DEP is slapping them with an $800,000 fine and ordering immediate action.

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Runoff from Little Blue has seeped down hillsides into these communities requiring First Energy to build collection stations. But now DEP is saying that is not enough. They must supply residents treated municipal water.

First Energy officials could not be reached for comment, but in a statement DEP Secretary Michael Krancer said quote: “We believe this will not only make major strides in envi¬ron¬men¬tal projects for that area, but also bring peace of mind to many res¬i¬dents who have expressed con¬cerns about the Lit¬tle Blue Run impoundment.”

And while he applauds the DEP’s actions, Curtis Havens says he fears that the damage done by Little Blue might be permanent.

“I think eventually they’ll have to buy us out. The ground’s still going to seep. They’re not going to stop the seeping.”

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