Riverkeeper and Partners Release Coal Ash Damage Report

Riverkeeper and Partners Release Coal Ash Damage Report

Cross-posted from Upper Watauga Riverkeeper

In hopes of encouraging the EPA to come out with overdue regulations on the handling of coal ash, EIP and Earth Justice with help from the Appalachian Voices Watauga Riverkeeper team released a report today illustrating the damages caused by 31 coal ash disposal sites across the country.

The report details 31 sites where major damage to surface water or groundwater has been documented. The pollution present in this waste is among the earth’s most harmful to aquatic life and humans – arsenic, lead, selenium, cadmium and other heavy metals, which cause cancer and crippling neurological damage. If these poisons can be kept out of the fish we eat, the water we drink, bathe in, and need to survive, simply through regulation, than we must take that long overdue step, not only for the sake of our public waters but for humanity’s sake as well.

Asheville Ash Pond and Nearby Homes

Coal Ash Moonscape at Belews Creek Steam StationCoal Ash Moonscape at Belews Creek Steam Station

The sites highlighted in the report are by no means the only sites where damage has occurred surrounding coal ash ponds, these are only 31 of the sites that have the most available information showing clear environmental effects. In fact as reported last year by the Appalachian Voices Riverkeeper Team- in North Carolina all of the 13 coal ash ponds have been found to be leaching heavy metals into groundwater, but only the worst five are listed in today’s national report on coal ash contamination to waterways. The report is meant to supplement an EPA list of about 70 proven and potential damage cases from coal ash disposal facilities.

Six of the 31 damage cases listed in this report are in North Carolina. They include Progress Energy’s Asheville, Cape Fear, Lee and Sutton power plants, Duke Energy’s Belews Creek plant, and the Swift Creek Landfill “beneficial use site” operated by ReUse Technology, Inc. and Full Circle Solutions Inc..

Currently there is no federal regulation regarding the disposal of coal ash and coal combustion waste. It is often stored in huge, wet unlined open ponds adjacent to rivers and streams. In North Carolina these ponds are up to 500 acres in size making them larger than the Carolina Panthers stadium. The EPA is considering classifying coal ash as a hazardous waste, which would mean many more safeguards to protect rivers, streams, wetlands and groundwater.

Based on our research that tested water, sediment and fish at the massive TVA Ash Spill in Harriman, TN, we believe that coal ash is hazardous, and this report graphically underscores that point. Regulation of coal ash is long overdue and the EPA and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) need to quit delaying the release of a hazardous ruling for coal ash.

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Riverkeeper and Partners Release Coal Ash Damage Report

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