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Residents Taking Operators Of Fly Ash Disposal Site To Court

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Environmentalists call it "fly ash;" the power industry calls it "scrubber waste."

Regardless, residents of one Fayette County town say it's covering their yards and streets and causing serious health problems.

Every year, millions of tons of coal ash is offloaded from barges and trucked up to the hill for dumping at a sprawling disposal site in Fayette County.

Residents in nearby LaBelle say they've had enough.

"These are good, hardworking people that want to live their lives, and every time they turn around, there's a toxic dust cloud either in their intersection in their town or blowing onto their homes," said Lisa Graves-Marcucci, an environmentalist.

Concerned citizens met again this week; and on their behalf, a group called the Citizen's Coal Council is filling suit against the site's owner, Canistrell, saying they're contaminating the ground water and spreading coal waste dust over the community.

Canistell has not returned phone calls.

But the suit says the site should be lined to prevent chemical byproducts of the waste from leaching into the soil, and trucks hauling it should be covered with tarp to prevent the dust from blowing.

"What they really want is for someone to take these concerns seriously enough to actually enforce the instruments in place to protect them," said Marcucci.

The group wants to head off a plan by the First Energy Corporation to ship more coal ash from the Bruce Mansfield plant in Beaver County 96 miles down the Ohio and Mon Rivers to the dump.

"And to take an already problematic site and add millions of tons of ash is just complicating an already troublesome situation," Marcucci said.

This suit is only the first salvo in what promises to be a continuing battle over the coal ash dump with the ultimate aim of environmentalists to shut it down for good.

DEP Investigating Fly Ash Hauling (1/29/13)
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