Coal Ash

Coal Ash: Coming to a town near you?

A couple looks across their yard at a coal ash pond in North Carolina (Credit: Chuck Burton/AP).

WASHINGTON, DC — “The United States still relies on coal to provide 30 percent of its electricity, and a typical plant produces more than 125,000 tons of coal ash—the byproduct of burning coal—every  year. For decades, power companies dumped this product, which can contain toxic metals such as arsenic and mercury, into unlined ponds that had the potential to leak and contaminate the drinking water of nearby communities.

Despite an EPA rule that requires power companies to dispose of the waste responsibly and monitor water quality near the dumping sites, coal ash continues to be a serious environmental concern. The rule regulating coal ash is weak and gives utilities the option to dump coal ash in landfills and old mines—often turning them into toxic waste sites. Many are located in and around marginalized communities without the power to fight back. Now, with an administration that’s hostile to environmental regulations in power, the coal ash problem is likely to get worse. ”

— Nathalie Baptiste, Mother Jones

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