BALTIMORE, MD (March 9, 2009) – On March 9, 2009, New Page Corp. at the pulp and paper mill located in the Town of Luke, Allegany County, reported to the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) that a coal ash slurry spill had occurred into the North Branch Potomac River. Company officials advised that a pipeline that carries liquid ash from the Mill’s power plant to an ash storage lagoon in West Virginia had ruptured, allowing approximately 4,000 gallons of slurried ash to discharge directly into the river.
Officials estimated a “dime sized” hole developed in the pipeline around 8:00 p.m. on Sunday, March 8, 2009, and was discovered at 6:00 a.m. on March 9, 2009. The damaged pipeline was immediately taken out of service for repairs while cleanup efforts to remove spilled ash from the West Virginia shoreline are ongoing. Two unaffected parallel pipelines continue to carry ash slurry while repairs and cleanup operations are underway. MDE maintains regulatory authority over the North Branch Potomac River to the ordinary high water line along the West Virginia shoreline. In addition, MDE regulates the discharge of the coal ash lagoon in West Virginia through a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES), Permit since it normally discharges directly into the river after treatment.
MDE staff responded to the site and will monitor clean up and repair activities. MDE’s investigation of the spill continues.