Power Plant Facing Potential Lawsuit Over Coal Ash Pond Failure Plans

Feb 7, 2018

The Sierra Club, a national conservation group, has threatened the Laramie River Station, LRS, a cooperative, coal-fired power plant near Wheatland, with a lawsuit over its failure to follow certain federal guidelines.

Last April, the Laramie River Station released emergency plans in the event coal ash ponds, or other storage areas, were to spill. Coal ash is a liquid byproduct of turning coal into electricity, that can contain mercury, lead, arsenic, and potentially radioactive materials. LRS is home to over 3200 acre/feet of storage capacity for contaminated coal combustion liquids.

Adjacent Property Owners Map, Laramie River Station -- map in emergency plan
Credit Laramie River Station / Basin Electric Power Cooperative

Connie Wilbert, director of the Wyoming chapter of the Sierra Club, said the station did not disclose essential information to the public over the risks and dangers of those leaks. 

“The public has the right to know what they should do, who they should contact, what steps the facility should will take immediately,” Wilbert said, "and none of the information is available now because they didn’t include it in their plan as they’re legally required to.” 

Wilbert adds there’s a real risk to nearby citizens if the ponds do end up leaking. 

“If there was a pond failure over at Laramie River, it most definitely could affect nearby private lands, all that recreational use, those state wildlife areas, so yeah, it’s a cause for concern,” Wilbert said. 

The Laramie River Station is located upstream of the Wheatland Creek, Uva Ditch, Chugwater Creek, the Laramie River, Grayrocks Reservoir and Cottonwood Draw. Wilbert says the LRS has 60 days to correct the deficient plan before a lawsuit is officially filed in federal court.  

The operator of the station, Basin Electric Power Cooperative, had no comment.