Friday, March 2, 2012

WDNR issues notice of violation in bluff collapse incident

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) has issued a notice of violation concerning the bluff collapse at our Oak Creek Power Plant site on Oct. 31, 2011.

The WDNR noted that a combination of factors contributed to the bluff collapse and that it is difficult to arrive at a definitive conclusion based on currently available information. We will participate in a follow-up conference with WDNR officials to discuss the matter.

Susan Martin, our executive vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary, said, “We agree with the DNR report that a combination of factors contributed to the bluff collapse. We believe water from a number of sources, which seeped through layers of soil in the area, was the major reason for the bluff failure.”

In the violation notice, the WDNR notes that a detention pond built for the flue gas desulfurization process “appears to have the greatest potential to impact groundwater recharge and flow to the bluff collapse area. Even at low seepage rates, a significant volume of water would have discharged through the basin bottom over the three-year period since the basin was constructed.”

Martin said the detention pond built in 2009 was not built above the coal ash deposits. As noted in the WDNR’s findings, small ash deposits were found during excavation for the pond. We removed the deposits and replaced them with suitable soil before the detention pond was completed.

There was no threat to the health or safety of the public before the bluff collapse or as a result of the collapse. No one was injured in the incident, and we restored the area within a month of the event. Should any fines result, they would not be paid by customers.

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