As the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) weighs in on whether to regulate coal ash as hazardous waste, a new report by the Environmental Integrity Project, Earthjustice and the Sierra Club shows two Arkansas coal power plants as contaminating groundwater. The analysis finds that 39 sites in 21 states where coal-fired power plants dump their coal ash are contaminating water with toxic metals such as arsenic and other pollutants, and that the problem is more extensive than previously estimated.
The study examined groundwater contamination near two Arkansas coal power plants – Flint Creek Power Plant in Gentry and Independence Steam Station in Newark. Groundwater flowing from the Flint Creek Power Plant is contaminated at least 360 feet beyond the facility boundary at concentrations that have exceeded Arkansas groundwater protection standards, EPA Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs), and EPA Secondary MCLs. The report found similar contamination of groundwater near the Independence Steam Station, with arsenic, cadmium, and lead exceeding federal Maximum Contaminant Levels.
Environmentalists are calling for more direct EPA involvement in regulating coal ash instead of leaving enforcement to the states.
EPA has scheduled seven nationwide public hearings on its proposal to regulate coal ash. The first hearing is scheduled for next week. A public comment period ends November 19.
To read the full report by the environmental groups, visit: www.action.sierraclub.org/harmsway.