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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unEARTHED is a forum for the voices and stories of the people behind Earthjustice's work. The views and opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent the opinion or position of Earthjustice or its board, clients, or funders.

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View Lisa Evans's blog posts
15 January 2013, 8:37 AM
Toxicologist suggests nation's children can eat toxic ash
Water that has come into contact with coal ash has been found to contain poisonous levels of arsenic, lead and other pollutants at more than 200 sites across the nation.

In Missouri, rape apparently does not cause pregnancy, and it’s OK for children to eat coal ash.

When Missouri Republican Todd Akin said last August that “legitimate rape” rarely results in conception, the congressman caused quite a stir—and this offensive nonsense, broadcast coast to coast, likely cost him a Senate seat.

More provocative baloney was recently heard in Missouri—this time from toxicologist Lisa Bradley about the safety of children eating coal ash—the waste produced by burning coal.  Never mind that coal ash contains an alphabet soup of toxic trash, such as arsenic, hexavalent chromium, lead, mercury and a dozen other hazardous metals, Dr. Bradley testified at a public hearing in Union, MO that “a child could consume coal ash every day and have no increased exposure to arsenic.”

Dr. Bradley is a vice president and senior toxicologist at AECOM, a prominent international consulting firm that has received numerous contracts to investigate coal ash sites, including controversial investigations of the Kingston TVA disaster and the Town of Pines Superfund Site.

3 Comments   /   Read more >>
View Lisa Evans's blog posts
30 December 2012, 9:20 PM
But EPA must not leave the job half done
Outgoing EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson.  (The National Academy of Sciences)

During her four-year tenure as administrator of the EPA, Lisa Jackson was a true champion for public health and environmental justice.

One of her greatest legacies is the Mercury and Air Toxics Standard, a rule that will help Americans breathe a little easier since it sharply limits the amount of mercury and other toxic metals that can be emitted by coal-fired power plants. The rule finally requires the capture of mercury, arsenic, hexavalent chromium, nickel, selenium and other heavy metals at the plant smokestacks.

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View Maria Beloborodova's blog posts
27 December 2012, 10:00 AM
Readers were most inspired by stories of the wild
Two of the first five calves born at Ft. Peck Indian reservation this year. (Bill Campbell)

Blog posts about Earth's magnificent places and creatures were the most popular themes for unEarthed readers in 2012. By far the most-read post concerned Arctic drilling, followed by reports of bison being restored and wolves losing protection. Not shown in our top 10 blog posts, below, are the delightful tales of curious critters painted in words by our own Shirley Hao. Posts written years ago by Shirley are still being discovered and read by thousands of people every year.

And, now, for your enjoyment, we present our most-read posts of 2012:

View Lisa Evans's blog posts
18 December 2012, 9:39 AM
S.3512 fails to ensure protection of public health, safety
CRS found that S.3512's and H.R.2273's weaknesses are “unprecedented” in environmental law.

The Congressional Research Service, dubbed the U.S. Congress’ 'think tank', recently released an authoritative analysis of S.3512 and—to the dismay of the bill’s stalwart sponsors—it’s a bust. CRS, a department of the Library of Congress and nonpartisan research tool for the House and Senate, recently weighed in definitively on the Senate and House coal ash bills, S.3512 and H.R. 2273, and concluded that the bills’ weaknesses are “unprecedented” in environmental law.

CRS found that the bills lack a clear purpose and would not ensure state standards “necessary to protect human health and the environment.” These bills—one passed by the House in October 2011 and the other now pending in the Senate—would prevent the EPA from ever setting federally enforceable safeguards for the disposal of toxic coal ash.

2 Comments   /   Read more >>
View Daniel Hubbell's blog posts
13 December 2012, 10:39 AM
Moapa Band of Paiutes blaze a trail to clean energy and better health
Vickie Simmons, a tribal member, stands in front of Reid Gardner Power Station.  (Chris Jordan-Bloch / Earthjustice)

In his address at the Tribal Nations Conference, President Obama spoke with his usual eloquence about invigorating growth on tribal lands, and the perfect example of this new growth is the Moapa solar project on the Moapa River Indian Reservation. Situated just 30 miles north of Las Vegas, the site will generate up to 350 megawatts of clean, renewable energy. It highlights in many ways the future of the nation’s energy supply, and unfortunately the Paiute Indians themselves know the industry’s cloudy past.

Just next to the reservation is the Reid Gardner Power Station. This coal-fired power plant generates more than just electricity; it produces more than 4,000 tons of toxic, arsenic-laden coal ash every year. This waste is stored in landfills near the power station, but often it does not stay there. On bad days, the wind sends the ash sweeping into the reservation, a condition some tribal members compare to a sandstorm. Locking the doors and staying inside is the only recourse on these bad days, and even that has not protected the Moapa Band of Paiutes. The locals have plenty to say about their health, ranging from headaches and dizziness to asthma and even serious heart conditions. The almost-50-year-old belching coal plant has plenty to answer for.

Still, the Moapa Paiutes are determined to show the world that there is a better way forward.

View Raviya Ismail's blog posts
04 December 2012, 3:36 PM
Disproportionate burden of coal plant emissions placed on such communities

The results of a comprehensive study investigating the impacts of living near 378 coal plants in the United States have found that people of color and low-income communities are disproportionately more burdened by this pollution than any other segment of the population. Coal Blooded was pulled together by the NAACP, Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO) and the Indigenous Environmental Network.

View Jared Saylor's blog posts
30 November 2012, 12:14 PM
Defends DoD Bill against unrelated Hoeven Coal Ash Amendment
Sen. Boxer takes a stand against false rider tactics.

Some members of the Senate believe it’s acceptable to write up legislation to prevent the EPA from regulating toxic coal ash—and then attach it to a completely unrelated bill.

They tried unsuccessfully earlier this summer to put it into must-pass legislation that would help maintain and improve our nation’s highway infrastructure. They’re considering including it as a “rider” on the pending “fiscal cliff” bill. They even talked about putting it on a spending bill for the Department of Defense.

It seems some senators know no bounds on allowing polluters to continue dumping this waste—filled with arsenic, lead, mercury and more—into unlined and unmonitored ponds and landfills next to coal-fired power plants. Already, coal ash has polluted lakes, rivers, streams and aquifers at nearly 200 sites across the country.

But yesterday, one senator made clear that she’s not willing to allow dangerous environmental riders onto unrelated legislation.

2 Comments   /   Read more >>
View Lisa Evans's blog posts
28 November 2012, 1:16 PM
Lawmakers are leading nation to environmental cliff
More than a hundred million gallons of coal ash slurry were released when a coal ash dam failed, flooding Buffalo Creek Valley in West Virginia.

In the aftermath of a major catastrophe, lawmakers and regulators should be held accountable to create new safety protocols to avert future disasters. Incidents like the Cuyahoga River catching fire and the Exxon Valdez oil spill prompted changes in how we protect our nation’s waters from industrial chemicals. The Buffalo Creek disaster in West Virginia in 1972 likewise prompted changes to the regulation of dams storing toxic materials. Similarly, we must demand changes to how coal ash is handled, following the largest toxic waste spill in our nation’s history—the spill in Kingston, Tennessee in December 2008, which will have its fourth anniversary in a few weeks.

Former Director of the National Mine Health and Safety Academy Jack Spadaro remembers the Buffalo Creek disaster and knows that its grim legacy still casts a shadow today.

View Jared Saylor's blog posts
16 November 2012, 1:09 PM
4 years after the Tennessee coal ash spill, problems continue to grow
Aerial view of the devastating 2008 coal ash disaster in Tennessee. (TVA)

Four years ago, a small Tennessee town woke up to a nightmare. A nearby coal ash pond that held back more than a billion gallons of toxic waste collapsed, sending a flood of ash and dirt right through their doors. In the weeks and months that followed, an entire nation began to see the magnitude of the coal ash threat.

Cleaning up the Clinch River near Kingston, TN, continues. Just last week, the Tennessee Valley Authority—the owners of the coal ash dam that burst—announced plans to let nature take its course in removing the remaining half a million tons of ash.  Coal ash activist, Watauga Riverkeeper and Earthjustice client Donna Lisenby summed it up best: "Five hundred cubic yards is enough coal ash to fill a football field almost 94 feet high from end zone to end zone. Coal ash contains arsenic, lead, chromium and many other toxic pollutants. Leaving that much ash in the river system to combine with all the other legacy pollutants just increases the total pollutant load."

2 Comments   /   Read more >>
View Raviya Ismail's blog posts
15 October 2012, 11:51 AM
Article features communities living near coal ash ponds
Curt and Debbie Haven may have to sell their family home in Chester, W. Va. due to coal ash waste run-off seeping onto their land.  (Chris Jordan-Bloch / Earthjustice)

In our effort to raise awareness on the hazards of coal ash, we have written blog post after blog post, sent press releases, submitted editorials and letters to the editor.

So we are mighty pleased that the Washington Post featured this important issue in a story today written by Juliet Eilperin. The story illustrates the politics obstructing the coal ash rule from moving forward.

But what I am most pleased about, is the voice that this story gives to folks on the ground who are enduring the hazards of living near coal ash ponds. More on that later…