Bruce Mansfield Power Station

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Bruce Mansfield Power Station was a 2,741.1-megawatt (MW) coal-fired power station owned and operated by FirstEnergy near Shippingport, Pennsylvania.

Units 1 & 2 were retired in February 2019 and Unit 3 is scheduled for retirement on November 7th 2019. According to Bloomberg, Bruce Mansfield was the state’s biggest coal-fired power plant but struggled to compete against cheap natural gas.[1]

Deactivation of unit 3 began on November 7, 2019.[2]


The undated satellite photo below shows the plant in Shippingport.

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Plant Data

  • Owner: FirstEnergy
  • Parent Company: FirstEnergy
  • Plant Nameplate Capacity: 2,741.1 MW (Megawatts)
  • Units and In-Service Dates: Unit 1: 913.7 MW (1976), Unit 2: 913.7 MW (1977), Unit 3: 913.7 MW (1980)
  • Location: 165 SR 3016, Shippingport, PA 15077
  • GPS Coordinates: 40.638056, -80.416111
  • Technology: Supercritical
  • Coal type: Bituminous
  • Coal Consumption: 6.1 million tons
  • Coal Source: Marshall County Mine (Murray American Energy), Powhatan No. 6 Mine (Murray American Energy)[3]
  • Number of Employees: 105
  • Unit Retirements: Units 1 & 2 were retired in February 2019. Deactivation of unit 3 began on November 7, 2019.[4]


The plant was idled in February 2016 due to low prices for electricity, with no restart date planned. FirstEnergy is looking to sell the plant.[5]

In August 2018, FirstEnergy said it planned to close the power station's three units by June 1, 2021.[6]

Units 1 & 2 were retired in February 2019.[7]

In August 2019, FirstEnergy said it plans to shutter Unit 3 in November 2019, instead of in June 2021 as previously planned.[8]

Robert E. Murray, chief executive officer of Murray Energy and a major supplier for the power complex, lobbied the Trump administration for policies that would help the facility, and in 2017 the Energy Department proposed a plan to pay coal generators more for stockpiling fuel on-site. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission rejected the idea in 2018. FirstEnergy Solutions filed for bankruptcy in March 2018.[1]


A release of hydrogen sulfide (H2S) during repair work on a pipe killed two and injured four workers in August 2017.[9] The workers' families who experienced casualties in the accident filed lawsuits against FirstEnergy in November 2017 seeking damages.[10]

On January 10, 2018, Bruce Mansfield caught on fire causing damage to its roof and duct (industrial exhaust) system.[11] In a filing later that month, FirstEnergy revealed that the fire caused significant damage to the equipment for Units 1 and 2.[12]

Emissions Data

  • 2006 CO2 Emissions: 17,400,000 tons [13]
  • 2006 SO2 Emissions: 24,882 tons [14]
  • 2006 NOx Emissions: 29,869 tons [15]
  • 2005 Mercury Emissions: 185 pounds [16]

Death and disease attributable to fine particle pollution from Bruce Mansfield Power Station

In 2010, Abt Associates issued a study commissioned by the Clean Air Task Force, a nonprofit research and advocacy organization, quantifying the deaths and other health effects attributable to fine particle pollution from coal-fired power plants.[17] Fine particle pollution consists of a complex mixture of soot, heavy metals, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxides. Among these particles, the most dangerous are those less than 2.5 microns in diameter, which are so tiny that they can evade the lung's natural defenses, enter the bloodstream, and be transported to vital organs. Impacts are especially severe among the elderly, children, and those with respiratory disease. The study found that over 13,000 deaths and tens of thousands of cases of chronic bronchitis, acute bronchitis, asthma, congestive heart failure, acute myocardial infarction, dysrhythmia, ischemic heart disease, chronic lung disease, and pneumonia each year are attributable to fine particle pollution from U.S. coal plant emissions. These deaths and illnesses are major examples of coal's external costs, i.e. uncompensated harms inflicted upon the public at large. Low-income and minority populations are disproportionately impacted as well, due to the tendency of companies to avoid locating power plants upwind of affluent communities. To monetize the health impact of fine particle pollution from each coal plant, Abt assigned a value of $7,300,000 to each 2010 mortality, based on a range of government and private studies. Valuations of illnesses ranged from $52 for an asthma episode to $440,000 for a case of chronic bronchitis.[18]

Table 1: Death and disease attributable to fine particle pollution from Bruce Mansfield Power Station

Type of Impact Annual Incidence Valuation
Deaths 69 $500,000,000
Heart attacks 110 $12,000,000
Asthma attacks 1,000 $54,000
Hospital admissions 52 $1,200,000
Chronic bronchitis 40 $18,000,000
Asthma ER visits 50 $19,000

Source: "Find Your Risk from Power Plant Pollution," Clean Air Task Force interactive table, accessed March 2011

2009 test results show high levels of physical ailments in plant workers

In a December 2010 article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, president of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 272 at the Bruce Mansfield plant asked the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center to compile a list of diagnosed medical problems affecting union members, since he had heard multiple reports of illness. The president, Herman Marshman, got the results in 2009. Here's what UPMC documented from its health records for 360 IBEW members employed at the 2,390-megawatt power plant, as well as about a dozen recent retirees:[19]

  • Almost half -- 170 of the 360 -- had been diagnosed with serious ailments including hypertension, serious heart disease, a wide range of respiratory ailments and malignancies. Many of them had been diagnosed with more than one ailment.
  • Twenty-five percent of the workforce or 91 union members had hypertension, including several cases of malignant hypertension, a sudden and rapid development of extremely high blood pressure that destroys blood vessels and organs. Another 33 had been diagnosed with heart disease, including 11 with atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries; six with blood clots and embolisms, and two who were suffering from aneurysms, a ballooning of the artery wall.
  • Many also have been diagnosed with pulmonary problems including 21 with acute bronchitis; 13 more with respiratory infections, most of them acute; 11 cases of asthma; seven cases of airway obstruction; four cases of other lung diseases; three cases of pneumonia; two cases each of pleurisy -- an inflammation of the lining of the lungs and chest cavity -- and pulmonary collapse; and one case of emphysema.
  • Lung ailments affected more than 15 percent of the IBEW membership. The union also reported a notable number of airway ailments including 32 cases of sinusitis, 12 cases of pharyngitis, an inflammation of the throat or pharnyx; nine cases or allergic or chronic rhinitis (infected nasal passages) and two cases of acute tracheitis (bacterial infection of the windpipe).
  • Fourteen workers have malignancies that include colon, liver, bladder, thyroid, skin and kidney cancers.

The union workers' health assessment is consistent with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's review that found higher mortality rates for heart and lung diseases and lung cancer in 14 Western Pennsylvania counties, including Beaver. Studies have shown those diseases can be linked to air pollution.[19]

Coal Ash Waste and Water Contamination

Coal Ash: One Valley's Tale

In August 2010 a study released by the Environmental Integrity Project, the Sierra Club and Earthjustice reported that Pennsylvania, along with 34 states, had significant groundwater contamination from coal ash that is not currently regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The report, in an attempt to pressure the EPA to regulate coal ash, noted that most states do not monitor drinking water contamination levels near waste disposal sites.[20] The report mentioned Pennsylvania based Bruce Mansfield Power Station and Hatfield's Ferry Power Station as both having groundwater contamination due to coal ash waste.[21]

Coal Waste Sites

"High Hazard" Surface Impoundment

The Bruce Mansfield Power Station Little Blue Run Dam surface impoundment is on the EPA's official June 2009 list of Coal Combustion Residue (CCR) Surface Impoundments with High Hazard Potential Ratings. The rating applies to sites at which a dam failure would most likely cause loss of human life, but does not assess of the likelihood of such an event.[22]

Proposed expansion of Blue Run Waste Site

In Feb. 2011, FirstEnergy said it wants to expand the Bruce Mansfield Power Station Little Blue Run Dam coal ash site for the Bruce Mansfield Power Station, as the waste site is nearing capacity. The company wants to pay Greene Township, Beaver County, for the right to dump more coal waste on adjacent land it bought for $2.4 million in 2010.[23] The surface impoundment is on the EPA's official June 2009 list of Coal Combustion Residue (CCR) Surface Impoundments with High Hazard Potential Ratings. The rating applies to sites at which a dam failure would most likely cause loss of human life, but does not assess of the likelihood of such an event.[24] The site has also been found to be contaminating groundwater.[25]

FirstEnergy Corp. has offered Greene Township $15 million to embrace plans for the new 264-acre coal-ash disposal impoundment. Township Secretary Sandra J. Wright said the town will not consider the offer until the company submits information about the potential harms it may pose to the community: "The supervisors would have to change the zoning from agriculture to industrial, but the residents want to keep the rural character of the township." FirstEnergy has yet to submit plans for the coal ash disposal site to the township, which is along the West Virginia border in the southwestern portion of the county. "We're constantly getting people calling us to complain about odors and this and that" related to Little Blue, Ms. Wright said. FirstEnergy's 2,375-megawatt Bruce Mansfield Power Station in nearby Shippingport has dumped 100 million tons of fly ash at the site produced from coal burning and calcium sulfate collected by the plant's pollution control devices. Little Blue, once a cobalt-blue lake, is 400 feet deep and nearly filled to the top with waste from coal burning. The former owner of the power plant created the impoundment 35 years ago by building a 400-foot-high dam across Little Blue Run near its confluence with the Ohio River.[26]

Concerned residents and the Environmental Integrity Project, a national environmental group, say the unlined waste site poses risks of heavy metal contamination of well water. Continuing debate over potential environmental and health risks from Little Blue was detailed in the Post-Gazette's "Mapping Mortality" series published in December. In that series, the Post-Gazette's ecological study of mortality rates for heart and respiratory disease and lung cancer revealed elevated rates for the combined area of Greene Township, Hookstown and Georgetown. Heart disease deaths there were 46 percent higher than the national rate. The total of 88 deaths from all three diseases also was 42 percent higher than the predicted number of 62 deaths, based on national rates from 2000 through 2008. A community survey showed overwhelming opposition to the waste expansion. The township will await submission of a final plan before making further comment.[26]


On May 30, 2012, Little Blue Run Regional Action Group, a coalition of residents living near the impoundment, filed a lawsuit against utility company FirstEnergy, charging in their notice of intent that FirstEnergy violated state laws by exceeding pollution limits, and federal laws by failing to disclose toxic releases.[27]

Toxic Waste Data [28]

  • Arsenic Waste: 119,711 pounds
    • Air Release: 2,211 pounds
    • Land Release (surface impoundment): 117,500 pounds
  • Chromium Waste: 186,050 pounds
    • Air Release: 2,400 pounds
    • Water Release (Ohio River): 250 pounds
    • Land Release (landfill): 183,400 pounds
  • Dioxin Waste: 3.66 grams
    • Air Release: 3.66 grams
  • Lead Waste: 106,234 pounds
    • Air Release: 2,010 pounds
    • Water Release (Ohio River): 224 pounds
    • Land Release (landfill): 104,000 pounds
  • Mercury Waste: 1,425 pounds
    • Air Release: 185 pounds
    • Land Release (landfill): 1,240 pounds
  • Nickel Waste: 149,555 pounds
    • Air Release: 2,305 pounds
    • Water Release (Ohio River): 250 pounds
    • Land Release (landfill): 147,000 pounds
  • Selenium Waste: 43,876 pounds
    • Air Release: 5,006 pounds
    • Water Release (Ohio River): 250 pounds
    • Land Release (landfill): 38,620 pounds

Other coal waste sites

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About this image

Accidents and Negligence

  • July 22, 2006 [29]
    • While washing soot from two giant fans that draw gases from the pulverized coal burner into the scrubber, soot-laden water was blown out of the smoke stack and blanketed a 5-mile radius around Shippingport.
    • The “black rain” contained heavy metals such as mercury, hydrocarbons (including known carcinogens), and 30% black soot. The rain is oily and difficult to remove without high water pressure and intensive scrubbing.
    • Residents within this 5-mile radius experience black rain approximately once a month as well as “stack rain”, a lime-based gray-colored rain that is a nuisance as well.
    • Residents living in this area were advised that, if they wear masks while mowing the lawn and wash hands and faces when coming indoors, they should see no health risks.
    • However, they were also warned to not eat fruit, vegetables, or livestock that came in contact with the black rain.
    • FirstEnergy contracted out 20 men to help clean up 250 private residences and also purchased all crops and honey from that season, but many are claiming it is not enough. Windshield wipers still smear black and cars, pools, and houses are damaged where pressure hoses were used to remove the black.
    • FirstEnergy was fined a mere $25,000
    • In the weeks after this event, one four-year-old girl lost her hair due to a rare condition known as alopecia, one of the causes of which is thallium, found in the black soot that blanketed the girl and her toys. Many other cases of body-covering welts, one man has severe respiratory problems, and many say that the valley reports high levels of cancer.
    • The State Department of Health refused to conduct a study on the effect of black rain on residents.
  • June 10, 2007 [30]
    • For the second time in less than a year, “stack rain” fell on the homes surrounding the Bruce Mansfield plant.
    • This time it was gray, gritty soot that blanketed nearly 30 homes. FirstEnergy was quick to respond by cleaning the affected homes.
    • FirstEnergy claimed that a malfunctioning scrubber that has since been replaced caused the rain. They also claimed that they would be inspecting the scrubber systems during maintenance to make sure that sooty deposits do not build up and cause another rainout.
    • Again, merely a $25,000 fine.

Litigation and Controversy

  • June 28, 2004 [31]
    • The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers filed an unfair labor practices complaint with the NLRB, claiming that FirstEnergy is not bargaining properly.
    • 360 workers have been without a contract since their contract expired in February.
  • October 18, 2007 [32]
    • PennFuture and the Environmental Integrity Project announced their intention to sue the Bruce Mansfield plant for violations of the federal Clean Air Act and the Pennsylvania Air Pollution Control Act.
    • FirstEnergy provided records showing 257 counts of harmful and illegal air pollution between Nov. 22, 2002 and March 29, 2007.
  • July 22, 2008 [33]
    • The parents of the girl who may have lost her hair and developed other health problems from the black rain incident in 2006 are suing FirstEnergy for damages related to their daughter’s illness.
  • January 7, 2009 [34]
    • The Environmental Integrity Project is beginning to express concern over the Little Blue Run fly ash dump which the EIP says could be a bigger disaster than the Tennessee spill should the dam happen to break.
    • Residents living around the lake claim that the lack of wildlife and dead trees are a result of the fly ash dump and possible ground leakage of highly toxic chemical concentrations.

Articles and Resources


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Coal Unit at Center of Trump Bailout Bid to Shut 19 Months Early," Bloomberg, August 9, 2019
  2. "Bruce Mansfield deactivation begins," Pittsburgh Business Times, Nov. 8, 2019
  3. "EIA 923 april 2019" EIA 923 2019.
  4. "Bruce Mansfield deactivation begins," Pittsburgh Business Times, Nov. 8, 2019
  5. "FirstEnergy Idles Its Biggest Coal-Fired Plant; No Restart Date Set," IEEFA, Mar 10, 2016
  6. "FirstEnergy Solutions Files Deactivation Notice for Oil- and Coal-fired Plants in Ohio and Pennsylvania," PR Newswire, Aug 29, 2018
  7. "FirstEnergy Solutions shuts two coal units at Bruce Mansfield plant," S&P, Feb 19, 2019
  8. "Pennsylvania's biggest coal-fired power plant to shut 19 months early," Seeking Alpha, Aug. 9, 2019
  9. Kane, Karen (August 30, 2017). "Gas kills two workers, injures four at Beaver County power plant". Retrieved on February 10, 2018. 
  10. Moore, Daniel (November 17, 2017). "Injured workers, widows sue FirstEnergy over fatal power plant incident". Retrieved on February 10, 2018. 
  11. Washington, Lisa (January 10, 2018). "Ductwork Fire Proves To Be Challenging For Crews At Bruce Mansfield Plant", CBS Pittsburgh. Retrieved on February 10, 2018. 
  12. Stonesifer, Jared (January 22, 2018). "Bruce Mansfield fire may have caused “significant” damage to plant". Retrieved on February 10, 2018. 
  13. Carbon Monitoring for Action: Bruce Mansfield Plant Data. Center for Global Democracy.
  14. Criteria Air Pollutants: Bruce Mansfield Plant Data. Environmental Protection Agency.
  15. Criteria Air Pollutants: Bruce Mansfield Plant Data. Environmental Protection Agency.
  16. Environmental Protection Agency. Toxic Release Inventory: Bruce Mansfield Plant Data. Right to Know Network.
  17. "The Toll from Coal: An Updated Assessment of Death and Disease from America's Dirtiest Energy Source," Clean Air Task Force, September 2010.
  18. "Technical Support Document for the Powerplant Impact Estimator Software Tool," Prepared for the Clean Air Task Force by Abt Associates, July 2010
  19. 19.0 19.1 David Templeton and Don Hopey, "'A union president's worst nightmare': Report shows widespread illness among power plant workers" Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Dec. 18, 2010.
  20. "Study of coal ash sites finds extensive water contamination" Renee Schoff, Miami Herald, August 26, 2010.
  21. "Enviro groups: ND, SD coal ash polluting water" Associated Press, August 24, 2010.
  22. Coal waste
  23. "Utility wants to expand Beaver County coal ash dump" Post-Gazette, Feb. 7, 2011.
  24. Coal waste
  25. "Enviro groups: ND, SD coal ash polluting water" Associated Press, August 24, 2010.
  26. 26.0 26.1 David Templeton and Don Hopey, "$15M offered to allow ash site" Post-Gazette, Feb. 8, 2011.
  27. Matt Sledge, "Little Blue Run Owner FirstEnergy Target of Planned Lawsuit Over Massive Coal Ash Dump," HuffPo, May 30, 2012.
  28. Environmental Protection Agency. Toxic Release Inventory: Bruce Mansfield Plant Data. Right to Know Network.
  29. David Templeton (July 22, 2006). Dust Still Hasn't Settled 3 Months After Soot 'Event'. Pittsburg Post-Gazette.
  30. FirstEnergy Pays Maximum Fine For 'Black Rain'. Pittsburg Tribune-Review (June 10, 2007).
  31. Union Files Labor Complaint at Beaver county, PA Power Plant. Pittsburg Post-Gazette (June 28, 2004).
  32. Jeanne K. Clark (Oct 18, 2007). PennFuture, Environmental Integrity Project Proceed With Lawsuit Against FirstEnergy. PennFuture.
  33. Andy Sheehan (July 22, 2008). Black Rain Affecting Health of Shippingport Residents?. KDKA News Pennsylvania.
  34. Little Blue Run Fly Ash Dump in Beaver County a Concern For Residents, Environmentalists. KDKA News Pennsylvania (Jan 7, 2009).

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