Court Rules for Catawba Riverkeeper in SCE&G Coal Ash Case
On May 29, United States District Judge Joseph Anderson ruled in favor of Catawba Riverkeeper and denied SCE&G's motion to dismiss, rejecting SCE&G's claim that private citizens and organizations have no right to challenge SCE&G pollution of the Wateree River and groundwater from seepage from SCE&G's leaking coal ash ponds.
In January 2012, Attorneys Frank Holleman and Nick Torrey from the Southern Environmental Law Center filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation to require the cleanup of coal ash ponds and related pollutants that have been seeping into the groundwater and the Wateree River. In particular, Arsenic levels in the seeps and groundwater have been a concern at the site.
SCE&G, the operator of the Wateree Steam Station, made a motion to dismiss Catawba Riverkeeper's lawuit and argued in support of the motion that CRF and its members did not have a legal right to challenge SCE&G's contamination of the groundwater. SCE&G also argued that the right to have wastes from the ash ponds seep into the river was implicit in the NPDES permit. Finally, SCE&G claimed that Catawba Riverkeeper's claims were barred by an agreement between SCE&G and South Carolina environmental officials, which Catawba Riverkeeper contends can not be a legal basis for the discharge of pollutants because the agreement did not go through the public notice and comment process. Judge Anderson rejected SCE&G's legal arguments and ruled in favor of Catawba Riverkeeper on all issues.
For a copy of the court opinion, click here.
For a copy of the Complaint, click here.