Several members of the community spoke to the commissioners about the permit application regarding the Warren Generating Station.
John Able raised the alarm about oversight of the discharge into the Allegheny River changing DEP programs.
He alleged that will change what’s processed, how its processed and what contaminants are in the treated material.
Able noted the 28-page permit application is “very difficult for a layperson to decipher” and said it would be “extremely beneficial for the citizens of Warren County to have an opportunity to discuss the permit” with the operator and DEP.
He called for the public hearing or an “informal session” and noted the permit application notes a public hearing can be held if there is sufficient public interest and suggested the commissioners should have some say in that.
“The health effects of coal ash pollution on human health is well documented,” he added. “There are significant concerns.”
Able questioned whether some radioactive heavy metals will even be monitored for.
“This constitutes a really grave concern for anyone certainly downstream of that facility,” he said. “I hope that some of these issues could be addressed by DEP when they get here. (I) hope the public gets sufficient notice and sufficient publicity.”
Judy Albaugh, who said she lives two miles downstream from the site, detailed the various entities down river that use the Allegheny River as a source of municipal water service and asked if the commissioners have reached out to any downstream county commissioners on this issue.
Eggleston noted that they “only found out about it in the last few days.”
“Anything we dump in it… can have a very large impact on communities downstream to us,” Albaugh added. “What we do to the water here affects and gets compounded with what everyone else does to this.”
She asked the commissioners to “step up and help facilitate a meeting to have us all be ok with this.”
“My hope is that we can get some answers,” Piper VanOrd of Allegheny Outfitters said. “This is how a healthy community is supposed to function. (We are) supposed to be able to ask questions and get answers.”
“We want the good outcome,” she added. “The responsible thing to do is to sound an alarm” and articulate that as a “community, we care.”
“Honestly, (I) never heard the words ‘coal ash’ along the Allegheny River until a week ago,” she added. “It’s been here all along. We deserve to understand the processes that have been used in the past. What’s monitored, what’s not, we deserve to know that.”
“This is a renewal of a permit that has been out there for years and years,” Albaugh added. “That being said, just because it’s something we’ve done for years doesn’t mean it’s the good or the right thing to do it. That’s all we’re questioning.