It’s time to protect our clean water in Eastern Montana.
The state of Montana is taking public comments on how to clean up the massive coal ash impoundments at the Colstrip coal-fired power plant. The Colstrip plant operator, Talen Montana, designed and submitted 5 alternative cleanup proposals to the Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) that all fail to clean up groundwater contamination. Please tell DEQ that it must require the Colstrip owners to clean-up their toxic mess TODAY, not 100 years from now.
The Colstrip plant owners claim that the leaking ash impoundments are a “closed-loop system,” and a “zero-discharge facility.” However, these waste ponds leak approximately 200 million gallons of toxic effluent into the groundwater every year. The groundwater is so contaminated that the City of Colstrip must use water pumped from the Yellowstone River, 35 miles away. Talen has dragged its feet since it finally agreed to clean up its toxic pollution over seven years ago. And it is still stalling.
What’s really terrible about this plan is that Talen won’t clean up most contaminants until 2070. Even worse is that Talen’s plan would leave some harmful contaminants in groundwater until 2119 – and beyond!!! Saddling our children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren with over 100 years of toxic cleanup is unconscionable. It’s time for DEQ to say enough is enough, and require Talen to clean the site up NOW.
Any cleanup plan approved by DEQ must:
- Require dewatering, excavation and permanent storage of coal ash waste in a properly lined, monitored and licensed landfill.
- Require modeling and annual testing of all pollutants (not just boron and sulfate), including radium, in all subsurface geologic layers where contaminants occur now or are expected to move.
- Require financial assurance (bonds) that is designed for the worst-case scenario, not unsupported fairy tales and corporate penny-pinching.
- Be contingent on completion of all required and necessary studies, analyses, and data collection, not promises to do the analysis later. This includes collecting samples from more than just the surface of the ash ponds.
- Provide accurate and detailed information about the level of the groundwater under the ash ponds.
- Require a bond for the perpetual treatment of water.
- Continuously monitor cleanup efforts and annually review and adjust cleanup requirements and bonds.
Finally, DEQ must NOT approve any cleanup plan that allows 50 to 100+ years for cleanup. Simply put, DEQ must reject Talen’s scheme to turn Eastern Montana into an industrial sacrifice zone and impose a cleanup plan that protects Montana’s waters and future generations of taxpayers. Take action today and help to restore Eastern Montana’s clean water.
Want to submit comments directly? Comments must be submitted by midnight on Friday, Nov. 22. You can submit your comments to DEQColstrip@mt.gov.