Clean Wisconsin’s new report, Don’t Drink the Water, demonstrates that coal ash reuse may pose significant public health threats. Today’s report highlights the risks to residents of southeast Wisconsin, where more than one million tons of toxic coal ash has been used in building projects near drinking water wells.
Sometime after midnight, the White House made it official—its review of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) coal ash rule has begun. The quiet posting of the rule by the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) sets in motion OMB’s official regulatory review pursuant to a 1993 executive order.
Duke Energy announced recently a $10 million "Water Resources Fund" to be allocated for projects that promote clean water, habitat and public access in five southeastern states. While laudable, the action does not distract from the ongoing immense toll to the environment and health being exacted by Duke Energy nationwide.
Late last month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency quietly released inspection reports of coal ash ponds at 26 plants in 11 states. At eight plants, the agency found toxic lagoons in poor condition, encompassing almost a third of all the sites.
Although the North Carolina Department of Natural Resources found Duke Energy in gross violation of the federal Clean Water Act, the state agency placed so little value on public health that they were willing to settle for a pittance—a penny per ton of toxic coal ash stored at Duke’s two illegally polluting plants. To rub ash into the wound, the agency didn’t even require Duke to stop the flow of arsenic, cadmium, chromium and other toxic metals from the millions of tons of coal ash at the plants, much less clean up the pollution.
The EPA doesn’t need yet another reason to require the safe closure of the nation’s 1,070 coal ash ponds. But the massive leak of 82,000 tonsof toxic coal ash from Duke Energy’s Dan River Power Station this week should set off a siren to wake our sleeping regulators.
Late yesterday, the Department of Justice on behalf of the EPA lodged a consent decree with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia that requires the EPA to publish a final rule addressing the disposal of coal ash by Dec. 19, 2014. The settlement came as a result of a lawsuit brought by 10 public interest groups and the Moapa Band of Paiutes against the EPA for its failure to review and revise its regulations pertaining to coal ash.