US Senate: EPA Must Immediately Regulate Coal Ash Disposal

Millions of tons of unregulated coal ash poisons drinking waters, threatens cancer and more


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

The following statement is from Ben Dunham, associate legislative counsel at Earthjustice on yesterday’s Senate Resolution (S. Res. 64) by Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Thomas Carper (D-DE) calling upon the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to finally regulate coal ash waste disposal and storage. The resolution requests the "earliest date possible" for regulations.

"Senators Boxer and Carper recognized shortly after the tragic coal ash disaster in Tennessee, that the EPA needs to act immediately and regulate coal ash disposal. We are encouraged by yesterday’s announcement and hope that Congress and the Obama administration will continue to move quickly and protect millions of Americans living near these sites.

"Just three days before Christmas, approximately 1 billion gallons of wet coal ash sludge burst through an ash dam at the Tennessee Valley Authority site in Harriman, Tennessee, flooding over 300 acres with toxic levels of arsenic, lead, mercury, selenium, and boron. This tragic event was a wake-up call for federal regulators who have avoided regulating similar coal ash disposal sites all across the country to act now.

"This Senate resolution moves us one step closer to an ultimate goal of strong protections and safeguards to prevent more disasters such as the TVA spill. The resolution properly emphasizes that EPA must move immediately to inspect and record all coal ash waste sites, as well as establish the long-needed safeguards. Administrator Lisa Jackson should begin drafting regulations that guarantee safety and security for communities living near these sites. The resolution recognizes the greater danger posed by wet storage of ash, and EPA’s regulations should phase-out this antiquated process to encourage dry disposal in lined and monitored landfills or safe recycling of coal ash.

"Communities in Tennessee deserve to know that there will never be another TVA disaster. We applaud the Senate for their leadership and are hopeful that the Obama administration and the EPA will continue to follow their lead."

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