Thursday, February 25, 2010

6 more cases of coal-ash contaminated water in N.C.

Posted By on Thu, Feb 25, 2010 at 11:48 AM

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was expected to rule on coal ash — re: is it a hazardous waste, or not — in December. However, the coal lobby and waste management lobby is pushing back, delaying that ruling as long as they can. (Current rumor: Ruling will come in April.)

The EPA has only been trying to determine whether or not coal ash is a hazardous waste now for, oh, about 30 years. Meanwhile, coal ash ponds soak in the groundwater table for decades, barely regulated.

Gosh. What does this sound like? The banking industry? Health care? When will we learn that we can't count on giant corporations to regulate themselves?

Environmental groups have identified serious water contamination problems caused by coal ash dumps at 31 locations in 14 states, bringing to over 100 the number of U.S. sites where damages from coal ash have been confirmed -- and strengthening the case for the release of delayed federal regulations.

The latest coal ash damage cases are documented in a new report by Earthjustice and the Environmental Integrity Project titled "Out of Control: Mounting Damages From Coal Ash Waste Sites." North Carolina has six, tying with Pennsylvania for the state with the most sites in the report. The other states where new damage cases were found are Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, South Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia, with a majority of them in the South.

At 15 of the 31 sites, arsenic and other toxic contaminants have already moved off the dump-site property at levels harmful to human health -- and 25 of the problem dumps are still actively taking coal ash today. The report notes that the contamination is concentrated in communities with family poverty rates above the national median, raising environmental justice concerns.

"These unregulated sites present a clear and present danger to public health and the environment," said Earthjustice attorney Lisa Evans. "If law and science are to guide our most important environmental decisions, as EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson has promised, we need to regulate these hazards before they get much worse."

Read the rest of this article from the Institute for Southern Studies, by Sue Sturgis, here.

Read more about the two high-hazard coal ash ponds on the edge of Charlotte's drinking water reservoir, and the person fighting to protect that water, here.

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