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unEARTHED. The Earthjustice Blog

Hazardous Coal Ash Sites Made Public

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View Kathleen Sutcliffe's blog posts
15 July 2009, 1:42 PM
EPA reveals locations—now it must actually regulate coal ash
A house destroyed by coal ash that spilled in December 2008 from the TVA containment pond.

It appears the old maxim "ask and you shall receive" is alive and well.

On June 18, a coalition of environmental groups, including Earthjustice, filed a Freedom of Information Act request asking the Environmental Protection Agency to make public a list of "high hazard" coal ash disposal sites across the country.

Eleven days later, we had the information in hand. The 44 sites were spread across 10 states as follows:

North Carolina, 12 (Belmont, Walnut Cove, Spencer, Eden, Mount Holy, Terrell and Arden).
Arizona, 9 (Cochise, Joseph City).
Kentucky, 7 (Louisa, Harrodsburg, Ghent and Louisville).
Ohio, 6 (Waterford, Brilliant and Cheshire).
West Virginia, 4 (Willow Island, St. Albans, Moundsville, New Haven).
Illinois, 2 (Havana, Alton).
Indiana, 1 (Lawrenceburg).
Pennsylvania, 1 (Shippingport).
Georgia, 1 (Milledgeville).
Montana, 1 (Colstrip).

You'll notice the infamous TVA coal ash dam in Kingston, TN is not included on the list. The "high hazard" label was self-assigned. And it seems as if the operators of that ticking time bomb didn't consider their site quite hazardous enough to make the grade.

That's the precise reason why we've asked EPA to regulate toxic coal ash, so the communities surrounding these 44 "high hazard" dams—and all the others that didn't make the list—get the protection they want, need and deserve.

We'll keep you posted on whether EPA makes good on their promise to grant *this* request.

I was poisoned with Minwax chemical floor stripper in 1999 and ever since whenever I consume foods which may contain arsenic or VOC's, my fingers hurt excruciatingly. When I ate some black eyed peas, within 24 hours, I was in a great deal of pain.

I have since learned that coal ash has been spread on agriculture, notably peanuts, but possibly on other crops. I try to eat certified organic but with the Bush Administration making a sham of organic laws, and now Obama Administration, putting Monsanto lobbyists in charge of Food Safety, knowledge may be a thing of the past.

Do you have any knowledge which crops are accepting coal ash?


Susan Snow

I read with increasing concern your remarks on toxic content of coal ash. We live in a neighborhood built on many feet of landfill that consists primarily of coal ash dumped over many years by a local power plant. I and a number of neighbors have expressed concern over toxic residues that might seep into the ground and be absorbed by vegetables in the home gardens we maintain. Yours is the first article I hve seen suggesting that this is, in fact, a real problem. I note that our area has not been listed as a toxic waste dump yet.

Can you provide any guidance for us in our attempts to (1) determine the risks to us and our children from exposure to heavy metals from the coal ash on top of which our homes have been built; (2) what action we can take to bring this to the attention of the EPA and local authorities; (3) what support we can expect from government authorities (at federal, state, or local level) in trying to remedy this situation?

Please feel free to communicate our concerns to the appropriate authorities. Thank you very much for your assistance. We look forward to an early response.

Harold Doshan, Ph.D.
18 Griffith Road
Riverside, CT 06878

Thank you for the work you are doing.

In my effort to deal with chronic health issues, I had a series of tests done that indicated that I do have high levels of mercury and significant amounts of arsenic and lead in my body. I had all dental amalgams removed 10 years ago. Problems persist. Is there any indication that we might be absorbing these metals from the air we breathe?

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