BEAVER COUNTY (KDKA) – It’s the largest coal ash impoundment in the nation — a three-square mile lagoon in Beaver County called “Little Blue” — and it’s leaking toxic chemicals like arsenic and barium into the ground water and wells of residents living nearby.

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“If you see the red and white dots they’ve identified seepages from the impoundment,” Greene Township manager Sandy Wright explains.

The Obama Administration asked local residents and officials to come to Washington, D.C. to tell about their experiences of living next to “Little Blue.”

“We jumped at the opportunity to go to Washington, D.C. to tell our federal government that they need to have standard across the country so other people don’t have to live with an unlined fly ash disposal facility,” Wright said.

In the next few weeks the administration is expected to announce new rules governing fly ash impoundments.

“We feel there needs to be a strong minimum standard to prevent sites like this from every happening again,” Environmentalist Lisa Grave-Marcucci says.

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“Little Blue” is already under a consent order to close.

FirstEnergy Corporation will have to clean it up. They own the Shippingport coal fired power plant that created the waste that was once dumped in Little Blue.

But environmentalists want more. They say any new impoundments should be required to have liners to keep them from leaking.

Regulators — like the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection — should be required to keep a closer eye on these impoundments, and they should have the power to quickly close them if they start to pose a hazard. These are expected to be part of the new federal rules.

Meantime, Wright wants to make it clear: Greene Township doesn’t want the Shippingport power plant shut down — they just want their health and safety to be protected.

“The power plant is a necessary part of our community. We all want the power and we want people to have jobs. We just want to see the disposal of coal ash done correctly.”

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