By Julie Johansen
The Sierra Club and HEAL Utah along with the assistance of Public Justice filed a lawsuit in late February, which was served to Pacificorp Monday, March 21, 2016. The suit alleges that the Huntington Power Plant has contaminated the land and water with coal ash waste.
According to the complaint, the transport and disposal of the coal ash waste ”has caused extensive contamination of local ground and/or surface waters, which may present an imminent and substantial endangerment to health and the environment.” The suit also claims that the coal storage pile near the plant is also causing runoff pollutants.
The suit continues by saying that in order to keep these contaminations from infiltrating Huntington Creek, Rocky Mountain Power has created a research farm to use the contaminated water for irrigation, which have only added to the contamination of groundwater and Huntington Creek. They also report that Pacificorp has backfilled two small streams below its coal ash landfills in order to keep them from flowing directly into Huntington Creek. It is further alleged that water from these streams is diverted into pipes that drain into a ash-waste facility at the plant, all adding to the contamination and pollution of the Huntington Creek, ground water and land around the Huntington Plant.
Rocky Mountain Power issued the following news release in response to these allegations.
SALT LAKE CITY, March 22, 2016 – Rocky Mountain Power will refute allegations in a lawsuit regarding environmental compliance at its Huntington power plant in Emery County, Utah. This action has been anticipated by the company.
Last October, HEAL Utah and Sierra Club publicized a notice of intent to file the lawsuit, which resulted in a few extremely one-sided news reports. In response, Rocky Mountain Power submitted an editorial opinion refuting the claims to The Salt Lake Tribune Oct. 30, 2015. It was published Nov. 15, 2015.
Rocky Mountain Power has a long record of excellent compliance with state and federal environmental laws. We are committed to maintain this record. The company has taken proactive measures at the Huntington power plant to
ensure compliance with environmental regulations and has obtained the appropriate permits to undertake these actions.
Many of the conclusions the plaintiffs claim from company information or studies are not supported by the facts of the studies themselves.
The company has dealt for many years with threats and lawsuits by Sierra Club and HEAL Utah. But recent publicity tactics by these groups are particularly objectionable in how they selectively use data to make misleading and, in some cases, false claims.
Sierra Club and HEAL Utah are on record working to immediately stop the use of coal to generate electricity.
We will continue to operate existing coal resources to provide low-cost electricity for our customers as part of our “all of the above” generation resource portfolio. The Huntington plant operational life currently extends beyond 2030. Our gradual, prudent deployment of more natural gas, wind and other renewable resources has been underway for more than 15 years. Since 2001, all the power plants we’ve built have been natural gas or wind.
Environmental respect is one of Rocky Mountain Power’s core business principles, which includes compliance with environmental requirements, developing sustainable operations, and respecting our natural resources, while ensuring that we fulfill our commitment to our customers to provide safe, reliable and reasonably priced electricity.