Bluff collapse blamed for discharge of 200-plus truckloads of ash, soil

Nov. 4, 2011

An estimated 2,500 cubic yards of coal ash and soil - enough to fill more than 208 large dump trucks - was pushed into Lake Michigan in Monday's bluff collapse and landslide at the We Energies' Oak Creek Power Plant, a state environmental official said Friday.

The slide carried 25,000 cubic yards of ash and soil down the slope and about 10% of the load washed into the lake, said Ann Coakley, director of the waste and materials management bureau for the Department of Natural Resources.

Samples of coal ash and lake water were collected this week for testing to determine the environmental impact of the ash slide, officials said. Tests will show the levels of heavy metals and other contaminants in the ash.

Test results were not available Friday, Coakley said.

The plume of ash, soil and debris left behind in the wake of Monday's landslide stretched 120 yards long and up to 80 yards wide. The slide is immediately south of a $900 million air quality control facility under construction at the power plant. The building was not damaged.

Workers began digging ash and soil Friday out of two ponds on the Lake Michigan shore, We Energies spokesman Barry McNulty said. The excavation will continue for several days.

The sediment ponds are needed to store temporarily a mix of coal dust and water from cleaning of equipment inside the power plants.

Cleanup of ash and soil from the bluff collapse that is west of a stone berm built on the shore is to begin next week, he said. The berm was constructed after the landslide to help contain debris on the shore.

Ash and soil is being disposed of at a landfill on the power plant property. Cleanup east of the berm to the lake was completed Thursday.

Lifting large debris out of the lake will begin next week, McNulty said.

Divers could get started this weekend marking underwater locations of storage containers, a vehicle and construction equipment pushed into the lake from the force of the ash and mud slide, We Energies spokesman Brian Manthey said.

Removal of coal ash and soil in the lake will be coordinated with federal and state environmental regulators. No decision was made as of Friday on whether the ash and soil would be dredged from a vessel on the lake or scooped up with machinery on land, McNulty said.

U.S. Coast Guard officers trained as pollution responders have driven on land five miles north and five miles south from the plant each day this week. They have not spotted debris or fuel slicks floating away from the property, said Lt. j.g. Brian Dykens, a spokesman for the Lake Michigan sector office in Milwaukee.

Daily air flights by a Coast Guard auxiliary unit out of Milwaukee have not spotted debris fields or fuel slicks on the water, Dykens said.

Those official observations were disputed by a local resident. Maureen Wolff of Caledonia said she observed a line of black water near the shoreline about one-half mile south of the landslide on Friday morning.

An investigation into the cause of the bluff collapse is continuing, We Energies officials said.

The collapse occurred at a ravine that had been filled in the 1950s with coal ash from the power plant.

This site uses Facebook comments to make it easier for you to contribute. If you see a comment you would like to flag for spam or abuse, click the "x" in the upper right of it. By posting, you agree to our Terms of Use.

Suburban News Roundup

E-mail Newsletter

Your link to the biggest stories in the suburbs delivered Thursday mornings.

Enter your e-mail address above and click "Sign Up Now!" to begin receiving your e-mail newsletter
Get the Newsletter!

Login or Register to manage all your newsletter preferences.

Community Watch

» Franklin football team makes statement with rout of Muskego, 42-15 11/6

» IMS Barter hosts Annual Holiday Trade Expo on Nov. 7 11/6

» Initial Reaction Podcast: What's the one recent sports question that bugs JP more than anything else? 11/6

» Author Beata Zatorska to host book signing on Nov. 10 at Polish Center 11/5

» Prairie School to host open house at Franklin Public Library 11/4

» re: Craft and Relic in Franklin from Nov. 14 to 15 11/4

» Veterans Day ceremony scheduled for Nov. 8 in Hales Corners 11/4

» Santa to visit Oak Creek's tree lighting ceremony Nov. 29 11/4

» Greendale's tree lighting ceremony scheduled for Nov. 27 11/4

» Muskego rallies to end Oak Creek football season, 38-14 11/3

» Franklin football team gets pushed but prevails, 34-12 11/3

» Closings at Waukesha County household hazardous waste collection sites 11/3

» Franklin hires new Economic Development Director 11/3

» Wisconsin DNR to host meeting concerning water quality, arsenic amounts from Oak Creek Power Plant 11/3

» Oak Creek-Franklin School task force to 'tweak' plans for elementary enrollment boundaries 11/3

» Santa Claus to arrive early at Southridge Mall this weekend 11/3

» Cedar Hills students to showcase artwork in Milwaukee Art Museum 11/3

» Sendik's rolls out online grocery shopping service 11/3

» Journal Sentinel serial revisits 40-year-old unsolved Franklin murder 11/2

» Carmex and Green Bay Packers announce partnership 11/2

» Ascension announces plans to buy Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare Updated:  11/2

» Greendale School District collaborates with residents in search for new superintendent 11/2

» Oak Creek-Franklin School District increases tax levy by 8.3 percent for 2015-16 school year 11/2

» Positive and uplifting stories in suburban Milwaukee and Lake Country in October 11/2

» Franklin football team advances with physical win over Horlick 10/30

View All Posts Got a tip? Welcome rss



Local Business Directory