EPA Releases List of 44 “High Hazard” Coal Ash Disposal Sites
July 16, 2009
On June 29, 2009, in response to Sierra Club and its allies’ Freedom of Information Act request, the Environment Protection Agency released the list of 44 “high hazard” coal ash disposal sites across the country. The listed "high hazard" sites are all located near coal-fired electric power plants concentrated in 11 states; with more than 6 sites located in Ohio, Kentucky, North Carolina and Arizona.
Now that EPA has compiled the list of hazardous sites, the next step is to clean these sites up expeditiously, so that they no longer pose a serious threat to nearby communities and the environment. Sierra Club is also urging EPA to regulate coal ash as a hazardous waste and enforce stricter coal ash disposal requirements.
June 26, 2009
On June 18, 2009, a coalition of environmental groups formally asked the Department of Homeland Security, the Army Corp of Engineers and Environmental Protection Agency to make public the list of 44 “high hazard” coal ash disposal sites across the country. Sierra Club, Earthjustice, the Environmental Integrity Project, and Natural Resources Defense Council sent the request after the EPA refused to disclose which of the hundreds of coal ash sites pose such a threat to nearby communities that they have been deemed by the Obama Administration to be a national security risk.
The EPA was instructed by the Department of Homeland Security not to release information about the location of high hazard dams containing coal ash. Unspecified national security concerns were cited as the reason for withholding this critical information from the public, even though the locations of other hazardous sites, such as nuclear plants are publicly available.
Coal ash sites contain harmful levels of arsenic, lead, mercury and other toxins, which can leach out slowly contaminating drinking water sources, or as in the case of the 44 “high hazard” sites, flood communities with a life-threatening wave of toxic sludge as happened last year in Tennessee.
As Bruce Nilles, Director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign said, “people have a right to know if mountains of toxic coal ash are threatening their communities so they can take action and put pressure on their local utilities to demand clean up.”
Details and Documents:
In Reversal, EPA Names List of 44 "High Hazard" Coal Ash Sites
Sierra Club Press Release, June 29, 2009
Groups to Feds: Communities Have Right to Know of Toxic Coal Ash Sites
Sierra Club Press Release, June 18, 2009
Freedom of Information Act Request to the US Department of Homeland Security
June 18, 2009
E.P.A. Lists 'High Hazard' Coal Ash Dumps
June 30, 2009, by Shaila Dewan, The New York Times
See other "Stop Polluters" cases.