DNR placing blame on WE Energies for bluff collapse

DNR placing blame on WE Energies for bluff collapse

By Annie Scholz. CREATED Mar 1, 2012 - UPDATED: Mar 1, 2012

OAK CREEK- Blame is being placed for the bluff collapse that sent coal ash pouring into Lake Michigan. 

It happened at the WE Energies plant in Oak Creek.  Now the company could be in trouble.The DNR is saying WE Energies should have lined a storm water retention pond at the top of the bluff.  They didn't and the DNR claims it was a big player in last year's bluff collapse.

In October, a bluff gave way at the WE Energies plant in Oak Creek.  Now, the DNR says the company violated regulations by not lining a storm water pond -- calling it a significant factor in the collapse.

WE Energies spokesman Barry McNulty claims there's a problem with a condition in the report.  "The condition that we must line it if it is built on top of coal ash.  And it was not."

The DNR issued a conditional exemption back in 2008.  Part of it states WE Energies would have to install a liner where ponds are built over waste areas.  WE Energies claims it wasn't a waste area when they were done with it.

"As we were constructing the pond, we came upon small deposits of coal ash extracted that, then put in suitable soil," said McNulty.

WE Energies says by doing that, they wouldn't have been required to line the pond.

"We will certainly take whatever best practices can be applied from this going forward," said McNulty.

A conference will be held next week to discuss the violation.  Depending on the outcome, it's possible WE Energies could face some hefty fines.