People living near toxic coal ash dumps across the U.S. are threatened with water poisoned by arsenic, lead, radium, and other heavy metals. Loopholes in the EPA’s rules let polluters at more than 500 coal ash waste sites around the US off the hook for cleaning up the toxic mess they’ve created. Tell the EPA to close these dangerous loopholes and require cleanup at all the nation’s leaking coal ash dumps!
Loopholes exempt waste sites from clean up requirements if new waste hasn’t been added since 2015, but we know these old landfills and toxic sludge ponds are no less a threat to our communities and environment just because of their age. Currently, more than 500 leaking coal ash dumps escape federal regulation for this reason — and many are actively polluting our drinking water and putting our health at risk.
For over a century, utilities have dumped toxic coal ash into unlined pits where it easily reaches our groundwater. Once there, its dangerous chemicals flow into our lakes, rivers, streams and drinking water wells. Ninety-one percent of coal plants have polluted groundwater with unsafe levels of arsenic, lithium, cadmium, cobalt, selenium, radium, lead, and other toxins. These toxins cause cancer, respiratory issues, reproductive harms, neurological impairments, and make fish in the water toxic to eat -- impacting communities who rely on fish for sustenance.
Due to EPA exemptions, approximately half of all coal ash in the U.S. — more than a billion tons — remains unregulated! These sites include a 2-million-ton coal ash landfill leaking into Lake Michigan at the Michigan City Generating Station in Indiana; a 90-acre ash landfill poisoning groundwater in Orlando, Florida at the Stanton Energy Center; and a landfill used for 33 years at the TVA Bull Run Plant in Clinton, Tennessee that is leaking arsenic and more into the groundwater.
Coal ash most severely harms low-income, Indigenous, and communities of color, due to more than a century of policy placing polluting facilities in those neighborhoods and vice versa. Shutting down every coal plant in the country is not enough — we must make sure that this toxic legacy is addressed, too.
Time is of the essence. We must continue our push for rules that protect communities from the harms of unsafe coal ash disposal. Please join us in demanding the EPA protect our communities and environment from the threats of legacy ponds and inactive landfills.