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Talen Objects To Colstrip Ash Pond Clean Up Plan

The stacks of the Colstrip power plant in the distance.
Kayla Desroches
Yellowstone Public Radio
Colstrip Steam Electric Station

The operator of the Colstrip coal fired power plant is objecting to Montana’s requirement that it fully remove waste ponds that have been leaking millions of gallons of pollution a year.

In a letter to the Montana Department of Environmental Quality Thursday, Talen Energy protested DEQ’s chosen clean up approach for the Colstrip power plant’s two retired units.

DEQ in November announced it would require full excavation of toxic coal ash from leaking ponds at Units 1 and 2 that stretch over 254 acres, roughly 200 football fields. The agency said it was the only option that would ensure a permanent stop to the contact between the waste and groundwater.

Talen calls the agency’s decision rushed, risky and predetermined. The company also protests on procedural grounds and says DEQ chose the most expensive and invasive option when other alternatives would have done just as well.

Environmental groups in November lauded DEQ’s decision. It comes at the tail end of Gov. Steve Bullock’s term, just before the seat transitions to Gov.-elect Greg Gianforte.

The objection process is likely to extend into Gianforte’s governorship.

Kayla writes about energy policy, the oil and gas industry and new electricity developments.