A lawsuit filed two years ago by the Moapa Band of Paiute Indians over contaminants from the coal-fired Reid Gardner Power Generation Station near Las Vegas has been settled for $4.3 million.
NV Energy and the California Department of Water Resources, which are in the process of shutting down the plant, did not admit any wrongdoing in the agreement, the Associated Press reported.
About $1.5 million of the funds will go toward a wellness center on the Moapa Band reservation, attorney Robert Wiygul told the Associated Press. Tribal chairman Darren Daboda told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that the money will be used for that and for monitoring air pollution. Another $2.7 million will buy the tribe water rights and enable it to hire technical help to oversee cleanup of the site after it goes completely offline in 2017, Sierra Club official Barbara Boyle told AP.
That process is already in motion, with three of the four boilers at the plant retired last December, noted U.S. Senator and Democratic Leader Harry Reid (who bears no relationship to the plant), who represents Nevada, in a statement supporting the closure and the settlement.
“This settlement recognizes the harmful impact the Moapa Band of Paiute Indians have endured, and closing the Reid-Gardner plant was the right thing to do,” Reid said in a statement.
The Sierra Club and the Moapa Band of Paiute had filed suit in August 2013 claiming that ongoing pollution over the plant’s decades of operation had violated the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and the Clean Water Act, jeopardizing drinking-water quality beyond the reservation, and compromising the health of tribal members.
Under the agreement, NV Energy will keep the tribe and the Sierra Club apprised about cleanup status and environmental investigation as the plant is taken offline, AP said.
“The agreement represents extensive discussions between all parties to resolve historic differences and reach a mutually acceptable resolution of long-standing issues,” NV Energy said in a statement quoted by AP. “This settlement agreement is yet another step in the company’s ongoing efforts to decommission the Reid Gardner plant and remediate any environmental conditions on the site.”
Though the settlement will help assuage the damage, Reid noted that it won’t completely erase it.
“For years the band has suffered the consequences of breathing dangerous dirty air from the Reid-Gardner coal plant and this settlement is a step forward,” Reid said. “While the settlement will provide relief and help make the tribe’s home healthier and safer, no amount of money can pay for the sickness caused by a half-century of pollution from the coal plant. The Moapa Band of Paiutes and all Nevadans deserve a clean, healthy environment to raise their families in and pass on to their children.”