For our show on November 14th, tune in to hear host Craig Lubow speak with Abel Russ, Senior Attorney with The Environmental Integrity Project and co-author of the report “Poisonous Coverup: The Widespread Failure of the Power Industry to Clean Up Coal Ash Dumps”.
The new report from EarthJustice and The Environmental Integrity Project, was embargoed until Nov. 3rd. It found that 96 percent of coal plants are not complying with the EPA’s 2015 Coal Ash Rule – negligence that has resulted in ash landfills or waste ponds that are leaking arsenic, lead, mercury, selenium, and other metals into groundwater, often threatening streams, rivers, and drinking water aquifers, in addition to threatening the health of low-income communities and people of color.
Missouri has 12 toxic coal ash sites, according to the report’s findings:
Seven years after EPA imposed the first federal rules requiring the cleanup of coal ash waste dumps, 96 percent of power plants that are contaminating groundwater with toxic pollutants are not planning any treatment – and only one is planning a comprehensive cleanup.
The failure of the vast majority of companies to follow the 2015 Coal Ash Rule comes despite monitoring data that show that 91 percent of 292 U.S. coal-fired plants have ash landfills or waste ponds that are leaking arsenic, lead, mercury, selenium, and other metals into groundwater, often threatening streams, rivers, and drinking water aquifers.
These are among the conclusions of a new report, “Poisonous Coverup: The Widespread Failure of the Power Industry to Clean Up Coal Ash Dumps,” by Earthjustice and the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP). The report found that some power companies are manipulating data and monitoring systems to avoid cleanup requirements and proposing fake cleanup strategies that do nothing.
Abel Russ, Senior Attorney at the Environmental Integrity Project and co-author of the report, said: “Power companies have an obligation to step up and comply with this landmark rule, because toxic pollutants from coal ash dumps disproportionately threaten the health of low-income communities and people of color. The need for coal ash cleanup is an environmental justice issue that cannot be ignored, even as our nation shifts to cleaner energy sources.”
Although coal consumption has declined across the U.S. over the last decade as natural gas and renewable energy sources have become cheaper, the power industry continues to generate about 70 million tons of coal ash annually. After 100 years of burning coal, U.S. power plants have generated a total of about five billion tons of coal ash – enough toxic waste to reach the moon in train cars.
The primary goals of the 2015 Coal Ash Rule were to stop the continued disposal of coal ash in leaking ponds and landfills, to close these ponds and landfills in a safe manner, to monitor groundwater for contamination, and to clean up contaminated sites and restore groundwater quality.
An examination of public records and data from coal plants across the U.S. by Earthjustice and EIP reveals that the first goal has been partly achieved, because most coal plants are no longer sending coal ash to unlined ash ponds. But the “Poisonous Coverup” report shows that the other goals of the Coal Ash Rule have been thwarted by the utility industry, which is manipulating data and monitoring systems to make contaminated sites look clean and to avoid cleanup.
The “Poisonous Coverup” report analyzes the cleanup status of the 10 worst contamination sites in the U.S., and includes pollution data on all known coal ash waste sites across the U.S. for which information is available.
In addition to analyzing problems with coal ash cleanup, the report also details solutions to help accelerate cleanup and protect public health. The proposed solutions include the following:
Industry must fully comply with the federal Coal Ash Rule. Increased federal oversight. Plant-wide cleanup requirements. Testing of drinking water near ash dumps. Prohibition of dangerous coal ash reuse.
We at EcoRadio KC are glad to encourage awareness and protection of our world. Our goal is to assure our listeners are aware of how we can create a sustainable present for a sustainable future!
This will be a great radio hour!
We hope you can tune in!
George Carlin said “we (meaning people in general) are arrogant to think we (usually meaning they) are a threat to the planet. This planet put up with dinosaurs for 165 million years then waited another 65 million before putting up with people. Do any of you think people, humans, can last 165 million years?”