PSO: Nearby Groundwater Not Threatened By Landfill At Oologah Plant

Friday, August 27th 2010, 5:52 pm
By: News On 6

By Emory Bryan, The News On 6

OOLOGAH, OK -- As The News On 6 first reported Thursday, there's new concern about groundwater contamination coming from the PSO plant in Oologah. 

Three environmental groups say a landfill on the property is a threat to nearby groundwater. PSO doesn't agree.

8/26/2010  Related Story: Report: Oologah Coal Ash Site Contaminating The Verdigris River

The landfill at the plant in Oologah is close to the Verdigris River.

The material in the landfill is called fly ash, and it contains several chemicals like arsenic, and selenium and chromium. That's showing up in groundwater just around the landfill, but how far it goes beyond there is still unknown.

The PSO coal fired plant at Oologah burns enough coal every week to fill 600 rail cars. The byproduct is ash. Most of it is trucked offsite and used as a component of cement. 

What's leftover, about 10% of the total, is put in a landfill on the south end of the property. It's that landfill that is contaminating the property around it. The question is by how much and how far.

"There are for sure elevated levels of some of those contaminates in the groundwater on the plant property, but no evidence of contaminated groundwater outside of the plant property," said Stan Whiteford, PSO Spokesman.

The report, compiled by environmental watchdog groups, uses information that the Department of Environmental Quality gathered from monitoring wells on the property.

In response to the contamination in the water underground, DEQ required PSO to install more monitoring wells and says the newest information is being evaluated. 

DEQ does not believe the nearby Verdigris River is contaminated by the fly ash landfill.

The report on the Oologah plant comes as the government is considering increased regulation of the material.

"Our belief is that coal combustion products can be safely reused and safely land filled for the amount that's not reused. That particular landfill has been there 30 years and is a few years away from being full," said Whiteford.

Whiteford says when PSO builds a new landfill it would have better controls to prevent pollution. He says they're working with DEQ to stop the pollution happening now.

"There is no evidence that groundwater contaminants are going anywhere outside of the plant and affecting any groundwater or surface water, drinking water or surface water," Whiteford said.

PSO says additional controls on the current landfill should be in place within a year.