WASHINGTON, DC — “The ash left after burning coal includes toxic elements such as arsenic, lead, cadmium, selenium and mercury. Produced by 431 coal-fired power plants, which supply 36 percent of the nation’s electricity, coal ash piles up at the staggering rate of 140 million tons a year.
More than 40 percent of it is recycled to help make concrete, gypsum wallboard and pavement. But utilities store the rest in landfills, ponds or mines, and evidence has been growing in recent years that leakage is a problem.
…Water contaminated by coal ash violated federal drinking water or health standards at at least 197 sites in 37 states, including seven in Virginia and three in Maryland, according to the environmental group Earthjustice. The EPA gave 45 ponds at 27 locations in the United States a ‘high hazard potential rating,’ meaning that if the encasing for the ponds break, it would probably result in the loss of human life.”
— Juliet Eilperin, Washington Post