Brunner Island

The Brunner Island power plant along the Susquehanna River near York Haven, York County.

An environmental group is hosting a meeting for the public and officials to voice their concerns over the recent closing of fishing and recreational opportunities at the Brunner Island power plant along the Susquehanna River in York County.

And the Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper Association claims that the abrupt closure of many recreation offerings may be tied to groundwater pollution coming from the plant’s coal ash landfills along the river.

The meeting for the public has been set for noon-3 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 13, at the Conewago Inn, 3480 York Haven Road, Manchester, in York County.

“The Association invites all persons interested in this sudden denial of access and its impact to the people of Central Pennsylvania,” the group said in a press release. “The meeting will offer an opportunity for affected community members to share their experiences, and to initiate a conversation with local officials about public access and other concerns about the site.”

Talen Energy, owner of the coal- and gas-fired plant, posted no-trespassing signs at the plant on Nov. 1, cutting off access to a boat launch, popular fishing area with warm water flowing into the Susquehanna, fishing access to Conewago Creek and access to trails and wetlands.

At the time, a Talen spokesman gave this reason for the closing: “We have decided to close access to the site since we are operating an active power plant and the property should not be utilized for other purposes.”

Both the state Department of Environmental Protection and the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission checked Brunner Island’s operating permits and said Talen was within its rights to close off recreation for the public.

And state Rep. Keith Gillespie of York County said he has been unsuccessful in attempts to retain public access.

“For more than 50 years, the area around Brunner Island was hugely popular for local residents and tourists alike, who flocked there to fish, swim, watch birds, or just to take in the river’s natural beauty,” Ted Evgeniadis, the Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper, said in a press release announcing the public meeting.

“Now Talen Energy has taken that away from us, and we want to know why.”

The nonprofit watershed association said monitoring data submitted to DEP shows “extremely high levels of dangerous contaminants in groundwater at Brunner Island.”

Attempts to reach a Talen spokesman were not successful.

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