The Department of Environmental Protection and the Fish and Boat Commission have entered into an agreement with Talen Generation, LLC, for the company to pay a total of $952,150.00 for natural resource damages associated with the August 2005 ash spill at the Martins Creek Steam Electric Station in Lower Mount Bethel Township, Northampton County.
The fine money will be directed to mussel restoration and dam removal projects in tributaries to the Delaware River.
The spill occurred after a wooden stop log in the Ash Basin No. 4 discharge structure failed, causing an estimated 100 million gallons of ash material to spread across local fields and into the Oughoughton Creek and the Delaware River.
DEP, working with PFBC, the Delaware River Basin Commission and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, determined that the mussel population in the Delaware River was impacted as a result of both the spill and the cleanup.
Mussel restoration and dam removal projects will assist in the restoration and vitality of the mussel populations and improve aquatic habitat and water quality.
“This is the final piece of the settlement with the company to address the spill and its impacts,” said Mike Bedrin, Director of DEP’s Northeast Regional Office in Wilkes-Barre. “While this has been a long time coming, it is ultimately a good resolution that is in the best interest of the Delaware River and its ecological community.”
Under the settlement, Talen Generation will make a payment of $902,150 to the DRBC to fund the dam removal projects, as well as a separate payment of $50,000 for the mussel restoration project(s) in tributaries to the Delaware River.
The company must also pay $373,050 to the NJDEP for New Jersey-based restoration projects under a separate agreement with that agency.
In May 2008, DEP reached the first part of a settlement with PPL Generation, LLC and PPL Martins Creek, LLC, the owners and operators of the Martins Creek Plant at the time of the event, that required payment of a $1,500,000 civil penalty and corrective action for violations of various state environmental statutes associated with the ash spill.
That settlement preserved the Department’s claims for natural resource damages, which are resolved under the agreement announced today.
The Department sought public comment on this Natural Resource Damages Settlement over a 60-day period from July 25 to September 23, 2015. Five written comment letters were received and a comment response document was prepared in response to those comments.A copy of the Natural Resource Damage Settlement and the comment/response document is available under the PPL Martins Creek Fly Ash heading on the Northeast Regional Office’s Community Information webpage.