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Tr-Ash Talk: Coal Ash Making Headlines

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View Raviya Ismail's blog posts
29 June 2011, 10:46 AM
From Kentucky to Tennessee and West Virginia...
Massive clean-up operations in the aftermath of the 2008 Kingston coal ash spill. (TVA)

A round-up of coal ash in headlines this week:

As we wait for the mark-up to begin on Rep. David McKinley’s (R-WV) legislation that would strip the Environmental Protection Agency from using its authority to protect people from toxic coal ash waste, one group is mad as heck at the congressman’s effort to block these health safeguards. Activists – more than a dozen in all – picketed last week in front of Rep. McKinley’s office in Morgantown, W. Va. The protestors also sent a letter demanding the congressman withdraw the bill in question.

In a Business Week story, the Sierra Club’s Jim Sconyers says:

The Environmental Protection Agency is charged with protecting the health of our citizens. But McKinley says no to that. His amendment would prohibit the agency from doing anything -- yes, anything -- to set sensible rules to protect people's health from the dangers inherent in unregulated ash disposal.

In this story, McKinley nonsensically explains his reasoning behind the legislation: "because the science proves it is non-hazardous." Uh, you mean arsenic, lead, cadmium and mercury are non-hazardous?!

Well, if you think Rep. McKinley is dangerously misinformed, he is having a Town Hall meeting tonight in Morgantown. Here are the details.

Moving on…

In Gallatin, Tennessee, TVA officials have until 2017 to reduce air pollution by using scrubbers or they will have to shut down. This article opens with a descriptive detailing of the very toxic nature of coal ash:

A stream swirling past an island of grasses not far from TVA’s coal-fired power plant here looked like many other creeks — with a few differences.
The raised roadbed beside it and the island were composed of black bits of coal ash. The stream, which carried ash, runs from the plant to a pond where the material settles out of the water.

We hope the TVA can get its act together…

The activist streak spread to Kentucky, where several protested Gov. Steve Beshear's stance on failing to enforce EPA regulations.

Protesters gathered near the Kentucky River, which they say is being polluted by coal ash from a nearby coal plant. Sierra Club member and community activist Billy Edwards is quoted saying:

We just want them to enforce the laws to help clean up the river, so that we won't have a situation as a dying river - which it is.

Finally, the Environmental Integrity Project released a new report last week about 33 coal ash dump sites in 19 states that are contaminating groundwater – and violating a federal ban on open dumping.

EIP Director Eric Schaeffer had this to say:

EPA put rules in place in 1979 that should have forced closure or cleanup at contaminated sites long ago. Because EPA was prohibited by law from cracking down on open dumping violations, they have been largely ignored by industry, so the pollution continues to this day, and in some cases has gotten worse.

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