This December marks the 4-year anniversary of the tragic coal ash waste impoundment failure at the Kingston Fossil Plant in Harriman, Tennessee when a billion gallons of toxic coal ash flooded the surrounding residential area and water bodies with extremely dangerous levels of arsenic, mercury, and other toxins.
Since then, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has been working to adopt regulations that would regulate coal ash, but the EPA’s attempt to finalize regulations have repeatedly been thwarted by the coal industry, who wants to completely remove EPA’s authority. Corporate polluters responsible claim that cleaning up this toxic mess would hurt their profits.
The most recent attempt by the industry to strip the EPA of its authority to regulate coal ash is Senate Bill 3512, the Hoeven-Conrad-Baucus coal ash bill. SB 3512:
• Fails to set closure dates for even the oldest, dirtiest coal ash ponds.
• Fails to require modern engineering standards for new disposal sites.
• Fails to protect communities from breathing toxic fugitive dust.
• Strips EPA of the power to regulate these toxic dumps.
• Fails to ensure its provisions will protect health and the environment.
Ask your Senators to keep coal ash OUT of the Defense budget bill. Tell them that if the coal ash bill — SB 3512 — is added to the Defense budget bill, it would put American communities and our environment in harm’s way.
Did You Know?
Coal ash is the by-product of burning coal for electricity, and every year an additional 140 million tons of coal ash are generated by coal-burning power plants – enough to fill a train stretching from the North Pole to the South Pole. This waste material is dangerous to human health and the environment, containing a toxic soup of pollutants, especially heavy metals, often at extremely high concentrations.
This summer EPA released data showing the number of coal ash disposal ponds and landfills is far greater than previously known. The data released by the EPA to Environmental Integrity Project and Earthjustice pursuant to a Freedom of Information Act request (FOIA) revealed that there are at least 451 more coal ash ponds and 56 additional landfills than previously acknowledged. Forty-six percent of the 1,161 ponds are not lined, which means there is nothing to prevent contaminates from leaching into water supplies. Forty-three percent of the active and retired landfills are unlined and 53 percent lack leachate collection systems.