Monday, October 26, 2015

Permit allowing more coal ash dumping in Pa challenged

4,800 tons of coal ash a day would travel by barge on the Ohio and Monongahela Rivers. Credit: Dave Gingrich/Wikimedia Commons
4,800 tons of coal ash a day would travel by barge on
  the Ohio and Monongahela Rivers. Photo: Dave Gingrich

PITTSBURGH – Environmentalists are challenging a permit that would allow more coal ash to be shipped to a toxic waste dump in western Pennsylvania.

Public News Service reports:

The Department of Environmental Protection has granted the permit allowing 48-hundred tons of ash a day to be shipped to a closed landfill in Green County.

Charles McPhedran, an attorney with Earthjustice, says the ash would travel 113 miles by barge on the Ohio and Monongahela rivers.

"And the dangers of the transport are that there will be some spill of the toxic material into the river that will endanger the river and endanger people that live along the river," he points out.

The landfill where the ash would be dumped already is contaminated, and monitoring wells around the site have detected arsenic at levels 342 times the legal limit.

More than 50 people who live near the landfill spoke in opposition to the proposed permit at a public hearing last spring. According to McPhedran there are several private wells and one public water intake at risk from site contamination already.

"We're asking the Environmental Hearing Board to send this permit back to the Department of environmental protection so they can improve it so it will be more protective of the public health," he says.

The environmentalists say the ultimate solution would be to stop producing toxic coal ash waste by switching to renewable energy sources such as wind and solar.

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