GenOn Northeast Management Co. was found to be liable for fouling the Conemaugh River with metal discharges from a power plant in Indiana County since 2005 by a federal magistrate. This could result in a maximum civil penalty of more than $300 million being levied. U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Mitchell must still decide what penalty to impose. David Masur, the director of PennEnvironment which filed the citizen lawsuit in 2007 along with the Sierra Club, observed:

Now we have to do the main part of what we’ve been trying to and that is to get the company to comply with the law after years of litigation. We need compliance, we need to make sure companies aren’t making money or that there’s a financial incentive to break the law.

According to Josh Kratka, senior attorney for the National Environmental Law Center, which helped filed the suit, there are two specific issues which remain to be settled at a trial scheduled to start June 1st before Judge Mitchell: How big will the civil penalty be, and what kind of court order must the judge issue to ensure that GenOn complies with federal anti-pollution laws?

GenOn Northeast is a wholly-owned subsidiary of GenOn Energy Inc. of Houston, which owns 16.5% of the Conemaugh Generating Station in West Wheatfield Township about 50 miles east of Pittsburgh. GenOn Northeast operates the coal-fired power plant on behalf of its parent and seven other owners. The lawsuit was filed in April 2007 when Reliant Energy Inc. still controlled the plant. Reliant last year merged with another power company, Mirant, to create GenOn Energy.

Source: Insurance Journal

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