Posts tagged: coal ash

unEARTHED. The Earthjustice Blog

coal ash


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Everyone has The Right To Breathe clean air. Watch a video featuring Earthjustice Attorney Jim Pew and two Pennsylvanians—Marti Blake and Martin Garrigan—who know firsthand what it means to live in the shadow of a coal plant's smokestack, breathing in daily lungfuls of toxic air for more than two decades.

Coal Ash Contaminates Our Lives. Coal ash is the hazardous waste that remains after coal is burned. Dumped into unlined ponds or mines, the toxins readily leach into drinking water supplies. Watch the video above and take action to support federally enforceable safeguards for coal ash disposal.

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View Jared Saylor's blog posts
05 December 2013, 11:59 AM
Many of Michigan's waters are poisoned by coal ash. Clean Water Action is spreading the word.
DTE River Rouge Plant in Michigan. (Photo courtesy of Clean Water Action)

“Pure Michigan.”

That’s the ad campaign Michigan is using to entice travelers to visit the Great Lakes state. Whether it’s fishing, swimming, boating or just lounging on the beach. Michigan wants us to know that it’s a great vacation spot.

But what our friends at Clean Water Action in Michigan are showing us is that many of Michigan’s waters aren’t as “pure” as we thought. Coal ash has contaminated many Michigan waters, a silent threat to Michiganders health.

Nic Clark.

In the fourth part of our series leading up to the anniversary of the TVA spill in Kingston, TN, we hear from Nic Clark, state director of Clean Water Action, Michigan. Nic is a native of Michigan and is committed to protecting his home state from toxic coal ash and other pollution.

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View Lisa Evans's blog posts
02 December 2013, 1:06 PM
Big-hearted fighter never gave up
Jan Nona in her kitchen, with tap water contaminated by coal ash. (Photo courtesy of Aaron Jaffe / Circle of Blue)

“You have the right to safe drinking water in this country. They took that right away from us.”

Jan Nona, 1939–2014

This Thanksgiving the world lost a great woman. With unequaled intelligence and tenacity, Jan Nona fought for clean water in her small Indiana town after toxic coal ash from the Northern Indiana Public Service Company (NIPSCO) poisoned the town’s drinking water with deadly chemicals. NIPSCO and the local landfill owner tried to hide evidence of contamination, but Jan was there to uncover the truth.

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View Jared Saylor's blog posts
27 November 2013, 8:25 AM
How is coal ash dumped at one site hazardous, but beneficial at another?
A portion of the Little Blue Run coal ash impoundment. October 2011.
(© Bob Donnan)

One of the nation’s largest coal ash dumps spans two states (West Virginia and Pennsylvania) and borders a third (Ohio). It is 30 times larger than the Tennessee Valley Authority coal ash pond at the Kingston Fossil Plant which burst in 2008.

The Little Blue Run coal ash impoundment has poisoned nearby waters with arsenic, selenium, boron and more. Residents tell of murky sludge oozing from the ground around their homes.

Russ Maddox.

In the third installment of our series leading up to the 5-year anniversary of the coal ash spill in Kingston, TN, we travel to Pennsylvania to hear from Lisa Graves-Marcucci, a community outreach coordinator with the Environmental Integrity Project, and the work being done to clean up the pollution at Little Blue.

View Lisa Evans's blog posts
26 November 2013, 11:10 AM
Federal court victory ushers in new health standards
The Kingston coal ash disaster in December 2008. (TVA)

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 the District of Columbia brought us one step closer to ensuring such a disaster will never happen again. The court ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency must set federal standards to prevent another potentially deadly disaster, protecting aquatic life and the hundreds of communities that live near coal-burning power plants.

View Jared Saylor's blog posts
21 November 2013, 12:22 PM
There's no such thing as "clean coal" in Alaska
Coal ash being used to fill a mined peat bog adjacent to Creamer's Field Wildlife Refuge. Fairbanks, AK. (Photo courtesy of Russ Maddox)

Alaska—the last frontier of untamed American wilderness. Unfortunately, it’s also home to dirty coal. The second part of our ongoing series about communities dealing with coal ash problems takes us far north where in Fairbanks four coal-fired power plants generate coal ash used as fill for nearby lowlands.

Russ Maddox, a 2013 Clean Air Ambassador and member of the Sierra Club Council of Leaders Executive Committee, Resurrection Bay Conservation Alliance, and Alaska Youth for Environmental Action, lives in Seward, AK, which deals with the effects of coal exports and coal dust. In 2012, Russ wrote about the problems of coal ash in his community for unEarthed. But earlier this month, he published an opinion piece in the Alaska Dispatch on the inferiority of coal mined in Alaska and burned at Alaskan power plants.

Russ Maddox.

We’re pleased to share Russ’ opinion piece here and look forward to continue our work together with him and his community to establish federal safeguards for coal ash disposal:

View Jared Saylor's blog posts
13 November 2013, 3:18 PM
Unregulated danger lurks in more than 1,400 coal ash sites
The massive coal ash spill in Tennessee in 2008. (TVA)

It was early October, but the trees were still a vibrant green. Fall had not yet arrived and winter was still a distant concern in Kingston, TN. Fishing boats and jet skis were tied to docks along the Clinch River, and even though it was a Thursday morning it was obvious that folks in this small community were already gearing up for weekend fun.

This was the scene a few weeks ago when I arrived in Kingston with a group of about 40 journalists and activists to tour the ongoing cleanup of one of the biggest environmental disasters in our nation’s history. Five years before at 1 a.m., Dec. 22, 2008, as the town slept, a coal ash dumpsite at the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Kingston power plant burst through a poorly constructed levee, releasing more than a billion gallons of toxic waste onto the sleeping town. A rumbling flood of contaminated waste rushed nearly six miles downstream. Donna Lisenby, of Waterkeeper Alliance, canoed down the rivers among giant “ashbergs,” 12-foot tall mounds of wet coal ash, as she tested waters shortly after the disaster.

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View Lisa Evans's blog posts
06 November 2013, 3:26 PM
New report talks trash about Michigan's ash
In Michigan, no regulations prohibit dangerous dumping of coal ash. (Clean Water Fund)

Clean Water Fund’s new report, Toxic Trash Exposed: Coal Ash Pollution in Michigan, reveals widespread damage from coal ash dumping in Michigan. The report discloses dozens of waterways and aquifers already poisoned and warns of statewide harm due to failure to impose reasonable safeguards on toxic dumping.

Clean Water Action released Toxic Trash Exposed on the second anniversary of the immense coal ash spill at the We Energies power plant in Oak Creek, WI, where 25,000 tons of coal ash spilled onto the lakeshore and into Lake Michigan. No one was hurt, but large boxcars tumbled like matchbox trucks in the melee. It could have killed anyone in its path.

View Lisa Evans's blog posts
30 October 2013, 5:26 PM
What if EPA’s coal ash rule doesn’t close unlined lagoons?
The pollutants from these black-bottomed coal ash lagoons are real—and deadly. (Image courtesy of Universal Pictures.)

The utility industry is speaking with one voice. According to comments filed last month with the Environmental Protection Agency, the Utility Solid Waste Activities Group (USWAG) is crying out for a coal ash rule that would allow forever-dumping of toxic waste in unlined, leaking and potentially unstable coal ash impoundments.

Each year, the coal industry saves boatloads of cash by dumping millions of tons of toxic waste in more than 1,000 lagoons, and they’d like to keep it that way. Wet dumping is the cheapest way, in the short-term, to dispose of toxic ash, but it is also the most dangerous. Terminating this dumping would require plants to close, stabilize and monitor coal ash lagoons that contain millions of tons of toxic waste and which have already poisoned underlying aquifers. To the coal industry, this is a frightening financial prospect.

View Lisa Evans's blog posts
24 October 2013, 1:53 PM
Toxic ash disposal at Kingston still dangerous and poorly regulated
The Kingston Fossil Plant coal ash spill, in 2008. (TVA)

It’s been almost five years since the TVA Kingston coal ash disaster blanketed an idyllic riverfront community in toxic waste.

I revisited the site earlier this month, and the progress of the ongoing Superfund mega-cleanup is evident. One can once again see what brought generations to settle in this scenic valley, amid the broad rivers, quiet bays and gentle green mountains.

In Harriman, Tennessee, families enjoyed vibrant waterfront recreation off sandy beaches along the calm sloughs. Before 2008, every riverfront home had a dock, and the neighborhoods were tight, sharing a common love of the beauty and bounty of the water and mountains. In December 2008, all this was destroyed by the dam’s collapse.

House nearly buried by TVA Kingston Disaster, December 2008.

House nearly buried by TVA Kingston Disaster, December 2008.
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View Andrea Delgado's blog posts
18 October 2013, 9:18 AM
Congress and the White House reach bipartisan budget compromise

On Wednesday night, with less than two hours before the country defaulted on its debts, Congress ended the standoff that shut the government down for 16 days, kept countless federal workers without work or pay, and left anyone watching disheartened by partisan antics. In the end, it amounted to Congress deciding to do its job and allowing others to do the same.

Budget compromise vote count. (Source: NYT)

Source: New York Times. See the Senate and House vote breakdown

Did the extreme right in Congress get what they wanted out of this theater and was it worth holding workers’ and families’ budgets hostage and taking us to the brink of default? The House had prepared a wish list of deeply harmful energy, environment and public health policy riders that got sidelined by its attack on Obamacare.

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