·  Legal News, Analysis, & Commentary

Lawsuits & Litigation

West Penn Power Co. Hit with Lawsuit Over Pollution Concerns

— January 11, 2022

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and state Department of Environmental Protection are suing West Penn Power Co. over claims that it has been polluting the Monongahela and Allegheny rivers.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and state Department of Environmental Protection recently filed a lawsuit against West Penn Power Co. over claims that “industrial waste from the utility’s two coal ash landfills has been polluting two local streams that feed into the Monongahela and Allegheny rivers.”

Water pollution graphic; image courtesy of Rilsonav via Pixabay,

The federal lawsuit was filed earlier this week in Pittsburg. According to the allegations, “the utility’s Mingo landfill in Union Township, Washington County, and its Springdale landfill in Frazer, Allegheny County, have repeatedly violated the federal Clean Water Act and the state’s Clean Streams Law by exceeding permit limits for boron.” For those who may not know, the “coal ash landfill in Union is associated with the Mitchell Power Plant and the one in Springdale is associated with the retired Springdale Power Plant.” 

According to the suit, West Penn has gone over its monthly limits of its “National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits for boron dating to 2013 and extending through this year.” This is a problem because the “sedimentation pond from the Mingo landfill discharges its pollutants into Peters Creek, a tributary to the Mon, and the one from the Springdale site flows into Riddle Run, a tributary to the Allegheny.” Additionally, the suit claims the Mingo site has also gone over its “monthly limit of 10 milligrams per liter on multiple occasions from May 2013 to August 2021.”

The suit further claims West Penn signs a consent agreement back in 2008 that was supposed to require it to comply with a 2006 permit. However, the “landfill has exceeded a 2 milligram-per-liter limit multiple times from March 2013 to October 2021,” the suit notes.

It’s important to note that high levels of boron could be harmful to plants and aquatic life. In addition, high levels of boron in animals have been found to negatively affect the “male reproductive system and hinder fetal development.

As a result, the plaintiffs are seeking $37,500 in penalties “per day for each violation of the Clean Water Act that occurred between March 1, 2013, and Nov. 2, 2015, and $56,460 a day per day for violations that occurred after Nov. 2, 2015.” On top of that, the plaintiffs have also asked for $10,000 in civil penalties “a day per violation and any other penalties the court deems appropriate.”

When asked about the allegations, West Penn issued the following statement:

“The Department of Justice will file in the near future a consent decree negotiated by all parties to settle the matter…The decree will detail West Penn Power’s position and the work to resolve the violations alleged in the complaint.”


West Penn Power sued over pollution violations in two local streams

Federal lawsuit filed against West Penn Power over Mingo Landfill


Join the conversation!