San Juan Coal Plant Settles with Sierra Club Over Alleged Water Pollution

Mar 29, 2012

Owners of the San Juan Generating Station and San Juan Coal Company have reached a settlement with the Sierra Club over allegations of water contamination from coal ash waste.

Under the settlement, PNM and other owners will spend about six million dollars on structures to limit the flow of potential contaminants into the San Juan River and  two million on other clean water initiatives.

The Sierra Club’s Rachele Huennekens says this is not a problem limited to the San Juan Station as there is no federal regulation governing the disposal of coal ash waste.  She contends there have been proven cases, all over the country, of groundwater contamination from what she describes as a "toxic" substance.

But officials with PNM argue that coal ash is not considered toxic, and they disagree with the allegations of pollution in the Sierra Club’s 2010 lawsuit.  Still, they say, it makes sense avoid litigation and spend the money on improving their systems instead.