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Talen agrees to pay $1M fine for coal ash violations at Pa. plant

Talen Energy Corp. has agreed to pay a $1 million fine for groundwater contamination tied to its coal ash impoundments at the 1,460-MW Brunner Island plant in York County, Pa.

Talen reached the settlement with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, or DEP, and the Environmental Integrity Project on behalf of three state and national environmental groups.

"Under terms of the consent decree, Talen Energy agreed to pay a civil penalty of $1 million, the largest coal ash penalty in Pennsylvania history, for violations of groundwater degradation" and National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit violations at the Brunner Island dual-fuel plant, the DEP said in a July 31 news release.

The DEP noted that Talen disposed of fly ash and bottom ash in seven unlined impoundments and one lined landfill. "Contaminants from those impoundments have been leaking into groundwater around the facility," the environmental agency said.

Under the settlement agreement, Talen will "inspect, monitor, and remediate any potential seeps from the impoundments and disposal area with the intention to improve groundwater conditions around the facility."

Talen also agreed to pay $100,000 toward environmental projects designed to "reduce or mitigate the effects of water pollution in the Lower Susquehanna River Watershed."

In February 2018, Talen reached a settlement with the Sierra Club to cease burning coal at Brunner Island by 2029. The primary fuel for the power plant is natural gas, while its secondary fuel is refined coal, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence data. The first of three units at the plant began operating in 1961.