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Coal-Waste Controversy Winds Up in Court

Judy Fahys/KUER
Rocky Mountain Power disputes the claims of environmental groups that have filed a lawsuit accusing the company of mismanaging coal waste and causing contamination at the Huntington Power Plant in Emery County.

Environmental groups announced a federal lawsuit this week over coal-ash at Rocky Mountain Power’s Huntington power plant in Emery County.

The groups say waste that’s been mismanaged for decades at the Huntington Power Plant is contaminating nearby water and land with toxic coal waste. Their suit against the electric utility and its parent company says pollutants like lead and mercury have leached into groundwater and surface water, and the practices put the public health and the environment at risk.

In contrast, the company says it’s been expecting the suit despite what it calls an excellent record of complying with state and federal environmental laws and a strong green ethic. Rocky Mountain Power is accusing the Sierra Club, HEAL Utah and a group called Public Justice of misrepresenting the facts to advance their goal of eliminating coal-fired power generation.

The flap’s played out this week in dueling news releases.

Judy Fahys has reported in Utah for two decades, covering politics, government and business before taking on environmental issues. She loves covering Utah, where petroleum-pipeline spills, the nation’s radioactive legacy and other types of pollution provide endless fodder for stories. Previously, she worked for the Salt Lake Tribune in Utah, and reported on the nation’s capital for States News Service and the Scripps League newspaper chain. She is a longtime member of the Society of Environmental Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors. She also spent an academic year as a research fellow in the Knight Science Journalism program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In her spare time, she enjoys being out in the environment, especially hiking, gardening and watercolor painting.
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