By THE DAILY NEWS
More than $3 million in damages will be paid to the state and 25
residents in Forward
Township as part of the settlement of a lawsuit between
the residents and the state Department of Environmental Protection.
The DEP announced Tuesday that $1.8 million of the settlement will go
to the state for clean-up costs and monitoring, and the rest will go to
residents who live on or near Rostosky Ridge Road.
“This agreement ensures that the consequences resulting from the ash
slide that interrupted the lives of nearby residents are properly
addressed,” DEP Acting Regional Director Ronald Schwartz said in a
release announcing the agreement. “Moreover, the agreement provides for
Pennsylvania taxpayers to be reimbursed for about 60 percent of past and
future cleanup costs.” The suit was brought in connection with a January
2005 ash slide and a related 2006 subsidence incident along River Hill
According to the DEP, the portion of the settlement to be paid to the
through the state includes $650,000 from the Municipal Authority of
Westmoreland County, which owned and operated a leaking water supply
line under the shoulder of River Hill Road; $1.02 million from West Penn
Power, now a subsidiary of Allegheny Energy, which arranged to dispose
of fly ash waste generated by its Mitchell Power Station sometime during
the 1950s and 1960s; and between $87,500 and $175,000 from the sale of
several properties in the area of the accident.
The residents also are to receive $500,000 from PennDOT and a total of
$825,000 from West Penn /Allegheny Energy, MAWC, and contractors URS
Corp. and Weavertown Environmental Group, jointly.
Cleanup of the area should be completed in 2010, according to the DEP.
That includes removing visible coal ash from the area impacted by the
slide and monitoring the arsenic levels in the soils.
The slide occurred when an embankment of coal ash deposited decades
ago adjacent to River Hill Road collapsed and temporarily dammed the
stream at the embankment’s base. When the ash dam failed, water carried
the material through the valley and onto nearby Rostosky Ridge Road.