Thursday, February 25, 2010

Enviros: EPA understates coal ash problem

A home in Harriman, Tenn., sits in ruins after a retention pond wall collapsed Dec. 22, 2008, at a power plant, releasing a mixture of water and coal ash waste that flooded 15 homes.
(J. Miles Cary/Knoxville News Sentinel/AP)

A study by two environmental advocacy groups claims that coal ash waste contamination nationwide is far worse than indicated by a new Environmental Protection Agency tally, with dozens more ash-waste ponds and landfills also leaching toxins into streams and drinking water.

At least 31 “new damage cases” not listed by the EPA in its end-of-the-year tally of 70 coal-ash pollution sites are identified and their pollution profiled in a report (Out of Control: Mounting Damages from Coal Ash Waste Sites) released Wednesday by the Environmental Integrity Project and Earthjustice groups.

The study identified 31 sites across 14 states, including one in Delaware and six in Pennsylvania.

The Christian Science Monitor reports that the groups identified the sites by assembling contamination data from state files using “similar criteria” to those sites the EPA had already identified. Arsenic, selenium, and boron were among the dangerous chemicals found to have “migrated off” nearly half of the 31 sites where coal-fired power plants store their coal ash, according to the study.

Contaminated water from coal-ash chemicals was found to be washing into streams and leaching into groundwater, including drinking water supplies. The sources were found to include many “dry landfill” and “structural fill” (areas where coal ash is seen as beneficial) ash impoundments, not just the wet retention-pond-type fills used by the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Kingston plant, which spilled an estimated 1 billion gallons of sludge across 300 acres of rural Tennessee just over a year ago.

Related environmental news:
Report: Contamination from coal ash waste is worse than EPA says
EPA's coal ash regulations still aren't set

Subscribe here to view all our YouTube videos

Repost this article