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unEARTHED. The Earthjustice Blog

Report Unveils Greater Threat to Drinking Water from Coal Ash

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26 August 2010, 1:19 PM
Now nearly 140 coal ash sites have proven water pollution problems

Knowledge is king, and now we know more about the extent of damage coal ash sites across the country are causing to our drinking water. A new report issued today by Earthjustice, the Environmental Integrity Project and  Sierra Club offers data that documents water contaminated with arsenic and other heavy metals at 39 coal ash dumps in 21 states. The report released today builds on a similar report released in February by Earthjustice and EIP that found an additional 31 coal ash dump sites. Combined with the 67 sites the EPA already knows have contaminated water supplies, the total number of documented coal ash dumps that have contaminated water supplies climbs to 137 sites in 34 states.

The timing couldn't be better. Next Monday kicks off the first of seven public hearings the EPA is holding through September across the country on its proposal to regulate coal ash. The report released today sends a clear message: coal ash sites contaminate water supplies with arsenic and other dangerous heavy metals and we need federally enforceable safeguards to protect against this toxic threat.

The report authors dug through gigabytes of water quality monitoring data from state agencies across the country to pull together today's findings. The findings are unnerving:

  • As many as 27 of the 39 sites where groundwater is contaminated may be illegal dumps according to federal law;
  • Most damaged sites are still active and virtually all show recent evidence of contamination;
  • In several cases, coal ash dump sites are leaking their toxic cargo into rivers just upstream from the intakes for public water systems;
  • At least 18 of the 39 contaminated sites are located within five miles of a public groundwater well that could potentially be affected by toxic pollutants from these dump sites;
  • Many states require no groundwater monitoring at all;
  • State agencies have not required polluters to clean up even as contamination increases.

Check out the report for yourself (but be careful, this PDF is a 6Mb file), and take a few moments to tell EPA to set federally enforceable safeguards for coal ash.

sorry to see that. pollution is everywhere now. it exits in your country as well as mine. i only can optimize it bit by bit from myself!

Solar, wind and geothermal are clean, safe, renewable/unlimited, free after initial cost, and ethical. I guess that's why the U.S. and state governments support and subsidize morally bereft, health/environment-devastating dirty coal and filthy oil, and now natural gas extractors poisoning our water and land. These crooked partners in crime and workers of corruption/evil/greed refuse to have anything to do with ethics or goodness, and will continue poisoning us, the environment and Earth's irreplaceable biodiversity. What is it going to take to stop them and their stranglehold on this nation's energy policy?
Here's a question for the greedsters: "What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul?"

Yuck... No wonder our society has so many diseases and illnesses. Add this to our unhealthy diet and lifestyle, and is it a wonder healthcare costs are rising every year?

- Henway of DailySnap

The claim that nuclear power plants release no pollutants into the atmosphere is a lie perpetuated by the nuclear industry and its boosters. There are widespread problems across the U.S. with nuclear power plants leaking tritium -- a radioactive form of hydrogen -- into surface and groundwater supplies. If you check out nuclear power plants' annual radiological environmental operating reports, which are available on the NRC's website, you will see that they also release highly toxic radioactive pollutants including cesium-137, iodine-131 and strontium-90. Then there is the severe environmental damage wrought by uranium mining. While nuclear reactors don't produce toxic ash, they do produce extremely toxic and long-lived radioactive waste, for which the U.S. currently has no viable storage plan. Coal power presents serious environmental hazards, but so does nuclear power. We shouldn't allow our concern about the former cloud our understanding of the very real hazards of the latter.

While coal is the mainstay of electric power production in the United States today, nuclear power makes up almost 20% of our electric power while emitting no toxic ash, carbon dioxide, and other pollutants into the atmosphere and our lakes and rivers.

We need to educate the American public on the vast energy supplies that this existing alternative energy source already provides and can be easily expanded to keep America competitive for years to come.

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