A view of the smoking chimneys of a coal-fired power plant against the backdrop of a dramatic sky with clouds.

Power Companies File Suit against EPA’s Enforcement of Coal Ash Rule

In a world of solar power, green energy, and electric cars, it is sometimes surprising to consider how much of a political hot potato good ol’ fashioned coal remains.

There are more than 300 coal-fired power plants still active in the United States, annually producing roughly 100 tons of coal combustion residuals (CCR), or “coal ash.” This coal ash has historically and routinely been found to contain hazardous compounds — such as arsenic, chromium, lead, and mercury — which are dangerous to plants and humans.…

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Ecological catastrophe

EPA Being Pushed Off the Fence on Coal Ash

With names like “boiler slag” and “bottom ash,” it’s no wonder that anyone who has ever heard of coal ash, or the coal combustion residuals (CCRs) produced from burning coal, assumes they are the basest forms of pollution. And they’re not entirely wrong; bottom ash is the burn-up matter that is too large to be carried up into the smoke stacks so it collects in the bottom of a coal furnace. Boiler slag is the glassy pellets that form in the bottom of coal stoves …

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COAL-ASH ALERT: New EPA Regulations Impact Waste Emission Requirements at Coal-Fired Power Plant

On November 4, 2019, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it was releasing regulations on how coal-fired power plants dispose of waste laden with arsenic, lead, and mercury. The newly promulgated rules have been considered a weakening of EPA regulations issued during the Obama Administration regarding the disposal of coal ash, which often makes its way to water and is stored in giant pits that could leech into local waterways. The revised rules were a result of a court decision mandating that …

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Coal Ash Alert: Report From Environmental Groups Claim 9 out of 10 Coal Ash Ponds Cause Groundwater Contamination

A collection of environmental groups have released a report claiming that the vast majority of coal ash ponds in the United States have leaked toxic chemicals into nearby groundwater. The report, based on monitoring data released by 250 power plants, found that 91 percent of the nation’s coal-fired power plants reported elevated levels of at least one contaminant such as arsenic, lithium, chromium and other pollutants in nearby groundwater. The report also claims a majority of the plants reported having unsafe levels of at least …

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Environmental Groups Urge Illinois State Legislature to Take Action Regarding Coal Ash Ponds

A report, authored by the Environmental Integrity Project, Earth justice, Prairie Rivers Network, and the Sierra Club, found that groundwater near 90 percent of reporting Illinois coal ash sites contain toxic pollutants like arsenic, cobalt, and lithium. The report’s results are based on data sets made public for the first time earlier this year as part of new federal regulations of coal ash, a toxic byproduct of coal-fired power generation that is commonly stored in unlined ponds or landfills near the plants. The groups are …

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Long-Term Environmental Impact of Hurricane Florence Yet to be Seen

As of press time, Hurricane Florence has claimed nearly 40 lives and caused extensive destruction in the hardest-hit areas of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia. Environmental analysts will have their work cut out for them as they attempt to measure the environmental impact of the storm. At present, we have detected three current areas of primary environmental concern — risk to nuclear sites, the spread of coal ash waste, and the flooding of industrial farms.

 Nuclear Sites:

The Carolinas are uniquely situated in that …

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Pain in the Ash: Part II- The Reckoning

The Environmental Law Monitor reported earlier this year on battles between environmental activists and power plants over the controversial storage of toxic coal ash waste near waterways and in landfills. The battle rages on this week after the EPA finalized a rule on July 17, 2018 that reduces Obama-era requirements for handling and storing the dangerous waste, thrilling the coal industry and evoking anxiety from activists.

Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler enacted a new standard for storing coal ash at more than 400 coal-fired power …

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Pain in the Ash: Byproduct Contamination at Coal Power Plants Back in Focus

Landfills and man-made ponds have been used for decades as dumping grounds for coal ash, which is the byproduct waste left over from burning coal in coal-fired power plants; it is one of the most prolific types of industrial waste generated in the United States. After all, coal is the biggest source of electricity production in the nation. Coal ash though contains a number of known carcinogens and is often stored in unlined pits, creating the potential for environmental and health risks such as increased …

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Pain in the Ash: Citizens in Virginia and North Carolina Seek Protection from Hazardous Coal Ash Waste

Power companies in North Carolina and Virginia are currently battling with their neighbors over the best method to store coal ash waste.

Coal ash, also referred to as coal combustion residuals, is the resulting waste following the burning of coal in coal-fired power plants. The ash is often disposed of in surface impoundments, landfills, and nearby waterways. When improperly disposed of, coal ash is hazardous to the surrounding environment, as it contains contaminants like mercury, cadmium and arsenic. In the case of a coal ash …

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