Ohio Public Utilities said it is suspending operations of two of its power plants in the western part of the state after a large amount of coal ash was released in the area, prompting the utility to shut them down.
The Ohio-Peconic area near Olin is among a few counties that have reported large amounts of ash and other pollutants released by a large coal ash plant in the past two weeks, including a chemical spill that spilled more than 10 million gallons of chemicals, according to state health officials.
The chemicals included a chemical called polybrominated biphenyl, or PCBs, that are known to cause cancer, birth defects and other developmental problems.
A report by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency found that in some counties, ash and chemicals have leached into groundwater and into streams, streams and other water sources, which could lead to algae blooms and fish kills.
“The release of these toxic chemicals into Ohio’s environment and water is causing concern and we are working with the local communities, businesses and residents to understand what the risks are,” Ohio Power and Light said in a statement.
The Ohio EPA also has issued a notice to Ohio and other nearby counties that it is investigating a spill from a storage tank in the Olin area on July 22, the utility said.
A spill has been under investigation for a month and a half.
Ohio Public Utility spokeswoman Jennifer Tullos said the company suspended operations of the three coal ash storage tanks on Monday, but said she didn’t know how many had been shut down.
Ohio Energy said it will not be commenting on the matter.
The utility said it had taken steps to mitigate the risks of the spill, but that additional steps need to be taken to make sure it is safe to continue to operate the plants.
The coal ash spill occurred in the town of Peconic, about 50 miles east of Cincinnati, which has about 7,200 people.
The state has not reported any pollution incidents from the incident.
Peconics was one of several communities in Ohio that were hit hard by a coal ash disaster last year that contaminated water and air and killed more than 100 people, according the state Environmental Protection agency.