Coal ash currently stored in ponds across the U.S. could flow continuosly over Niagara Falls for three days straight. The new Dallas Cowboys stadium couldn’t hold all the coal ash in those ponds; in fact, you’d need 263 Dallas Cowboys stadiums to hold it all. We’d need to build 738 Empire State buildings to contain it all. It would take Michael Phelps 8,823,000 seconds, or 16.78 years to swim the Butterfly stroke across the number of Olympic-sized swimming pools needed to contain coal ash: nearly 310,000.
These numbers don’t even reflect the amount of coal ash stored in unlined landfills and underground mines. The EPA guesses that amount could be even greater than what’s being stored in ponds!
The point is that we generate and store a lot of coal ash. The scariest thing is that all this waste is completely unregulated by the federal government. There are no federal requirements to monitor the structrual integrity of these ponds and landfills, to make certain coal ash doesn’t leak into drinking water wells and aquifers, or to guarantee the safety and security of the communities and neighbors that live near these sites.
Hopefully, this will soon change. We’re spearheading a coal ash Day of Action, joining over 100 grassroots and national environmental groups from across the country to call, email, and fax the White House and urge them to adopt federal rules that classify coal ash as a hazardous waste. This is an important distinction: coal and power companies have been using their lobbyist muscle to pressure the White House and the EPA to avoid calling coal ash what it really is: hazardous waste. By calling it hazardous waste, EPA is required to adopt the strongest protections provided by the law, which would ensure safety and security for our health and environment.
Join us today in the Day of Action. Send President Obama an email. Or better yet, call the White House directly at (202) 456-1414 using this script and tell them how important it is to regulate coal ash as hazardous waste. Send a letter to your local newspaper editor about the need for strong federal coal ash rules.