At the point where Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio come together, FirstEnergy Corp is buying up residential properties around its coal ash waste reservoir.
The local news is playing it as a loss of community issue – the properties are abandoned as residences. 78 families have been bought out.
One wonders why.
What lies there now is the country’s largest unlined coal ash impoundment, stretching over 900 acres and contained by a 400-foot tall, 2200-foot long rock-and earth dam, according according to a site survey prepared for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2009. …
Lisa Graves Marcucci, the Pennsylvania outreach coordinator for the Environmental Integrity Project, said it’s logical to think the most recent buying binge had to do with the expansion plans.
“We don’t know the ins and outs of why,” Graves Marcucci said. “We can presume that they might have bought some of the property either for an expansion, which they had tried to do of the facility a few years ago.
“We also believe that as the pollution has migrated out of the site into local areas,” she added. “We wonder if maybe some of the purchases may have been because of the movement of pollution into private water wells.”
“Not in my back yard” is a problem, but it’s easy to see how people become NIMBY focused. The presence of a big energy-related concern near your back yard (as opposed to somebody else’s) can be a pretty unfortunate thing.
We under-regulate, underpay for energy, and offload the externalities in a giant game of Russian roulette.
Local resident Sabrina Mislevy
said she didn’t even know Little Blue Run was a coal ash waste dump until residents started to collaborate with the Environmental Integrity Project, an activist group that has threatened to sue FirstEnergy on behalf of residents.
“I didn’t even know this was what it was until the community got together with EIP,” Mislevy said. “(EIP informed us that coal ash) was being pumped into (Little Blue Run) and especially the expansion that they wanted to do, which meant we would lose our agricultural zoning.”