Masontown residents sue Hatfield's Ferry power plant

Suit claims odors, pollutants harmful

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Residents of Masontown filed suit Tuesday in search of compensation for decades of soot from the Hatfield's Ferry coal-fired power plant, just weeks before it is slated to shut down.

"The plant is constantly emitting pollutants that are traveling into Fayette County and Masontown and affecting the property of the residents," said James E. DePasquale, one of the attorneys representing the Greene County residents. "It affects their homes, their cars and their enjoyment of their property."

Julius and Francine Jesso, along with Sheilah Novasky, claim in the lawsuit that they face arsenic-laced fly ash, odors and gases from the plant. They claim that constitutes a nuisance, negligence and trespassing, and seek a judge's order granting class-action status that would allow them to sue for compensation for 1,004 area families.

Mr. DePasquale said Ms. Novasky suffers from lung disease and can't use her yard or pool on many days because of the ash. He said the Jessos, a married couple, struggle to clear from their pool a white, sandy residue, which is so fine it is resistant to vacuuming. He said it also settles on their house and scratches their cars.

"In the permit that every one of these polluters operate under it says right on its face: You cannot damage private property through your industrial operation and your emissions," said Peter Macuga, a Detroit-based attorney who is working on the case with Mr. DePasquale.

The lawsuit claims that FirstEnergy has not used the best available pollution-preventing technology at Hatfield's Ferry.

Stephanie Thornton, a FirstEnergy spokeswoman, said that the plant is equipped with four-year-old scrubbers and electrostatic precipitators that remove 99 percent of fly ash. She declined comment on the lawsuit.

Ms. Thornton said that FirstEnergy plans to close the plant by Oct. 9. The power grid operator has sought a postponement to ensure that regional energy supplies aren't disrupted, and Ms. Thornton said the company would respond to that request by Sept. 8.

region - environment - legalnews

Rich Lord:, 412-263-1542 or on Twitter @richelord.


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