Leak stopped from PPL's Martins Creek Power Plant ash basin; cleanup, testing continue

Early Saturday morning, workers stopped the flow of water and ash from a leak in an ash basin that began Tuesday at PPL's Martins Creek power plant in Lower Mount Bethel Township, Northampton County, Pa...

ALLENTOWN, Pa., Aug. 29, 2005 (PRNewswire) -- Workers stopped the flow of water and ash from a leak in an ash basin that began Tuesday at PPL's Martins Creek power plant in Lower Mount Bethel Township, Northampton County, Pa.

The leak was plugged at about 1 a.m. Saturday, said Tom Eppehimer, the power plant's manager. Workers placed an inflatable rubber seal in the discharge pipe that carries water from the basin to the nearby Delaware River. By inflating that seal they were able to stop the leak. Efforts throughout the day Friday to slow the flow of water by placing sandbags and metal plates in the discharge structure enabled workers to use the inflatable seal successfully.

"With the leak stopped, our focus is on cleaning up the ash that spilled, continuing to collect and analyze river water, and repairing the damage in the discharge structure," Eppehimer said.

PPL has asked Normandeau Associates Inc. to perform a survey to determine if there has been any immediate biological impact from the leak and evaluate any potential future impacts. Normandeau -- an environmental consulting firm based in Bedford, N.H. -- specializes in biological assessments.

In addition, PPL has asked the Academy of Natural Sciences to provide an independent review of the environmental assessment and clean-up activities, and to make its findings available to the public.

"We also are continuing an internal investigation into the cause of the leak so we can define corrective actions for Martins Creek and PPL's other coal-burning power plants," Eppehimer said.

PPL is stepping up efforts to remove ash from the river today by installing temporary piping and pumps to remove ash contained within floating booms that the company had placed in the river. The piping will enable the utility to siphon water continuously from the river and pump it to another ash basin at the plant. Until now, it had been pumping ash into 5,000-gallon tanker trucks to remove it from the river. PPL also is cleaning up ash that was deposited on a cornfield, dry stream bed and road near the basin.

"We have tested the water that is used by customers of the Easton Water Authority. That water meets applicable standards for a wide range of chemicals in coal ash," Eppehimer said, adding PPL will continue to monitor water quality closely. He said PPL appreciates the continuing support of local, county, state and federal agencies and other companies involved in the cleanup.

PPL Corporation (www.pplweb.com), based in Allentown, Pa., controls about 12,000 megawatts of generating capacity in the United States, sells energy in key U.S. markets and delivers electricity to nearly five million customers in Pennsylvania, the United Kingdom and Latin America.

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