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EPA Recognizes Toxic Threat, Releases Location of 44 High Hazard Coal Ash Dumps

Victory: Taking swift action, agency makes public highly toxic sites that threaten public health
June 29, 2009
Washington, D.C. —

The following statement is from Earthjustice attorney Lisa Evans on today's posting by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency of 44 "High Hazard Potential" coal ash waste impoundments:

"We asked and have now received this important information about the location of some of the most dangerous and toxic coal ash sites in the U.S. This is critical information for the communities that live near these facilities who now know there is a substantial threat nearby. The next step is for EPA to regulate coal ash as hazardous waste and guarantee protections for these local communities.

"On June 18, Earthjustice, the Sierra Club, the Environmental Integrity Project and the Natural Resources Defense Council filed a Freedom of Information Act request to make public the location of these sites after the EPA refused to do so pursuant to the direction of the Department of Homeland Security since the sites pose such a threat to nearby communities that they have been deemed to be a national security risk. But the nature and location of these coal ash dump sites are precisely what the public needs to know.

"We are pleased to see that our request was not ignored and are heartened by this decision. Coal ash dump sites contain harmful levels of arsenic, lead, mercury and other toxins that can contaminate drinking water sources or potentially flood surrounding communities, as happened last December in Tennessee.

"This administration is fulfilling its commitment to scientific integrity and open government, and we hope that additional information about the location, size and ownership of the hundreds of other toxic coal ash sites will be made equally available as soon as possible. We also hope the EPA continues on this path and proposes to finally regulate toxic coal ash and once and for all establish the protections that communities and nearby neighbors want, need and deserve." 


Raviya Ismail, Earthjustice, (202) 667-4500, ext. 237