By Ariana Pekary
Every year, coal-fired power plants produce 140 million tons of ash and combustion waste, which contain toxins like arsenic and lead. That material often gets dumped, contaminating groundwater and drinking supplies — yet the EPA is not reporting the severity of the problem. Lisa Evans is Senior Administrative Counsel at Earthjustice and a contributing editor on their recent report: Out of Control: Mounting Damages From Coal Ash Waste Sites.
When Bob finished recording the interview with Ms. Evans, he walked out of the studio shaking his head. He said he can’t believe we are still talking about this as a problem —- “this” being coal and how the industry isn’t regulated. It’s astonishing that there are no Federal regulations governing the disposal of coal ash. What’s worse is that because of the way companies are now interpreting the Federal law, they are exempting themselves from it, saying they don’t have to file for a permit to dump their coal waste – so there is even less public information about what’s being dumped and where. And for some unseemly reason, the EPA doesn’t have the wherewithal to track down all of those pollutant sites, nor take legal action. This NY Times article describes the issue at length.
Rolling Stone also just published an article on the subject.
Here on the Earthjustice web site, you can read more about coal ash, see before and after photos of coal ash leaks.
The EPA promised to close the coal-ash loophole by the end of last year (2009), but the move has been stalled by lobbyists. You can read what the EPA has to say about coal ash from their web site.
Meanwhile, Ms. Evans waits for a response to her latest report from the Federal agency (and, I bet, is drinking bottled or filtered water).