Several environmental organizations have joined forces less than a week before the Environmental Protection Agency launches a series of hearings on coal ash, to call for tight federal regulations. Right now the EPA sets up guidelines for the retention ponds and acceptable levels of materials in drinking water but leaves enforcement to states. The groups released a report today that finds in many cases states know toxins are spreading out of the ponds but are not doing anything about it. In other cases they say states wont even monitor the ponds. Those are among the reasons why the Sierra Club, Earthjustice and the Environmental Integrity Project say the federal government needs to step in with enforcement. The study looks at 39 sites as case studies including FirstEnergy’s Bruce Mansfield Power Plant’s Little Blue Run Surface Impoundment in Beaver County and Allegheny Energy Supply Company’s Hatfield’s Ferry Power station in Greene County. Arsenic, Aluminum, Barium and Cadmium were among the chemicals and elements found in wells or surface waters near those coal ash ponds. Researcher Russell Boulding says he looked at ground water contamination at two plants where the power company has on-site wells. He says those wells were being used to supply drinking water to employees and although he did not test the water he believes they were contaminated based on test done to other wells in the area. “Unless they are doing some pretty fancy treatment of the ground water they are poising workers at the plant,” says Boulding. The groups are calling for the EPA to set liner standards for the ponds, monitoring protocols and clean up requirements.
The full report can be found here.
The first EPA hearing comes Monday in Washington DC followed by 6 more around the country including one September 21st in Pittsburgh.