Young Sierrans – Dallas Sierra Club

young professionals section of the dallas sierra club

EPA Coal Ash Rule Hearing – Sept 8th – Dallas

Posted by youngsierrans on August 31, 2010

This is another great opportunity to remind the EPA why we need their help in Texas!

Coal Combustion Residuals (CCRs), often referred to as coal ash, are residues from the combustion of coal in power plants and captured by pollution control technologies, like scrubbers. When coal ash is impounded or deposited in landfills, impoundment structures can fail and landfills can leach coal ash into groundwater. An EPA report (2007) looked at 181 coal ash disposal sites throughout the US and found that these sites release toxic chemicals and metals such as arsenic, lead, boron, selenium, cadmium, thallium and other pollutants at levels that put human health at risk. Coal ash dumped in unlined or clay-lined ponds and landfills pose the greatest risk. At least 23 states have poisoned surface or groundwater supplies from improper disposal of coal ash. Texas has one of the highest levels of coal ash generation, and is home to 21 known coal ash sites (TX Coal Ash Factsheet).

In Texas, the Brandy Branch Coal ash dump, the Southwestern Electric Power Co. coal ash dump, and the Texas Utilities Electric Martin Lake Reservoir have leaked elevated levels of selenium and toxic metals. There are no leachate collection systems in Texas, and there is no groundwater monitoring.

Coal ash is currently considered exempt waste under an amendment to the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). EPA is proposing to regulate, for the first time, coal ash to address the risks from the disposal of the wastes generated by electric utilities and independent power producers. We’re encouraging that EPA support the first proposal (RCRA, subtitle C designation), to allow coal ash to be classified as a HAZARDOUS WASTE.  We hope you will join us in Cleaning Up Texas from this unchecked industrial waste which pollutes our air, land and water while risking citizen health!

> What can I do? The Dallas hearing has passed (and was a great success!), but you can still comment online or email EPA (Attention Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-RCRA-2009-0640).  The public comment period has been extended until November 19, 2010. Click here and scroll down to “Addresses” for other methods of communication.

> Related Links and Resources:
* EPA Coal Ash Rule Hearing Website (includes 8/2010 Webinar Presentations, rule background, much more)
* EarthJustice “In Harm’s Way” Coal Ash Report (released 8/26/2010)
* EarthJustice Coal Ash Myths
* NYT Editorial “Unsolved Coal Ash Problem” (9/5/2010)
* 2008 TVA Coal Ash Disater Video
* 60 Minutes – Coal Ash Segment (8/15/2010)


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