HARRISBURG – The Department of Environmental Protection today ordered PPL Holtwood, LLC to cease the unpermitted discharge of coal bottom ash into the Susquehanna River at its hydroelectric power generating station in Martic Township, Lancaster County.
Bottom ash is an incombustible byproduct created when coal is burned in the generation of electricity, and is used by the company to seal water intake valves during annual turbine maintenance outages.
“Bottom ash contributes to sediment pollution that can affect aquatic life and water quality, and we do not allow unregulated discharges from industrial facilities into the Susquehanna River,” said DEP Southcentral Regional Director Rachel Diamond. “The department has ordered PPL Holtwood to stop discharging this material and immediately explore other methods of sealing the intake valves at this facility.”
PPL Holtwood uses, on average, fifteen to twenty tons of the bottom ash per year during maintenance operations. When maintenance work is completed the gates are opened, which discharges the bottom ash into the river.
The company has agreed to pay a civil penalty of $85,000 to the Clean Water Fund for the un-permitted discharge of material into the river. PPL Holtwood must also explore the use of alternative sealing methods and materials, and submit a proposal to the department for review and approval by March 1, 2007. The proposal must include the results of the company’s investigation and/or plans to modify the intake valves, along with a time frame for implementing the terms of the proposal. The company cannot commence work that can result in the discharge of any sealing material until a proposal is approved by the department.
If no alternate method of sealing the intake valves is found, PPL Holtwood must apply for an NPDES (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System) permit amendment that allows the discharge of the material into the river. NPDES permits regulate discharges into surface waters of the commonwealth under strict federal water pollution standards.