Share this Post:

unEARTHED. The Earthjustice Blog

Tr-Ash Talk: Not In Our Drinking Water


    SIGN-UP for our latest news and action alerts:
   Please leave this field empty

Facebook Fans

Related Blog Entries

by Lisa Evans:
Giving Thanks for the End of Catfish Stuffing

Five years ago, fish biologists scooped up a catfish full of toxic ash from the Kingston coal ash disaster. Last month, the U.S. District Court for t...

by Lisa Evans:
Absolutely NO on HR 2218

This week the House will vote on the “Coal Residuals Reuse and Management Act of 2013” (HR 2218) sponsored by Rep. David McKinley (R-WV). The bill...

by Lisa Evans:
Strike Three: CRS Makes Key Call on McKinley’s Coal Ash Bill

In advance of an upcoming vote in the House Energy and Commerce Committee this week, the nonpartisan think tank, Congressional Research Service (CRS),...

Earthjustice on Twitter

View Lisa Evans's blog posts
01 February 2013, 8:36 AM
Utility floats dangerous plan to barge toxic coal ash
Mississippi River at Vicksburg closed after barge hit railroad bridge and began leaking oil. (Photo: WLBT)

Utility giant FirstEnergy Corp unveiled plans last week to barge 3 million tons of coal ash annually nearly 100 miles on the Monongahela and Ohio rivers for disposal in an unlined pit in LaBelle, PA. The ash comes from its Bruce Mansfield Power Station—one of the largest coal burning power plants in the U.S.

There's not a thing right about this scheme, according to residents who take their drinking water from the river. Also unhappy are citizens of LaBelle, PA, whose water and air are already poisoned by nearly 15 years of coal ash dumping.

FirstEnergy Corp.’s announcement followed the lodging of a consent decree requiring payment of $800,000 for violations of environmental laws and the closure of its lethal and leaking Little Blue Run Impoundment—an immense toxic crater of coal ash spanning 1,300 acres, held back by a 40-story dam above the Ohio River. The Commonwealth required closure of the unlined impoundment after it poisoned drinking water and inundated properties of West Virginia residents with arsenic, selenium and other hazardous chemicals.

The Ohio and Monongahela rivers are drinking water sources for hundreds of thousands. Because coal ash is not classified as “hazardous,” the U.S. Coast Guard does not regulate its transport and imposes no requirements to cover the coal ash and prevent its escape into the water and onto homes along the rivers.

The anticipated final destination is an abandoned mine pit in Fayette County, where toxic waste from the Mitchell Power Plant has been dumped since 1999. This dumping has already covered homes in Labelle in hazardous dust. LaBelle residents fear that an increase in illnesses, including cancer, in their community, is caused by coal ash in their air and water.

Why would the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection or the EPA allow toxic coal ash to be dumped without a liner again and without precautions to prevent toxic dust? The ruse pursued by FirstEnergy Corp. is that dumping coal ash in the unlined mine pit is a “beneficial” use and therefore exempt from such safety requirements. Never mind that the same coal ash poisoned water with arsenic at Little Blue or that the air in LaBelle is already unhealthy.

In a better world, EPA coal ash rules would prevent this perilous plot and ensure that all communities are protected from such dangerous schemes. But without federal rules, FirstEnergy Corp. and other utilities find the least expensive ways to dump, no matter how reckless. At site after site, decisions driven by economics disregard the health of communities unfortunate enough to be in harm’s way.

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <p> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <blockquote>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

More information about formatting options

Type the characters you see in this picture. (verify using audio)
Type the characters you see in the picture above; if you can't read them, submit the form and a new image will be generated. Not case sensitive.