More needs to be done to protect the public from coal-fired power plant waste.
A new report released on Monday from the Environmental Integrity Project has revealed that coal power pollution, particularly coal ash, is a major problem. Several environmental groups want to see new regulations placed on the disposal of water from coal-fired power plants. These environmentalist feel that more needs to be done to protect the public from the dangers of toxic metals that leach into ground water.
Coal ash dumps need to be properly managed or water will be polluted above and below the surface.
Coal ash is the residue that results from burning coal and contains many contaminants, including arsenic, mercury and cadmium, among others.
The findings of the new report from the Environmental Integrity Project comes from data that power companies are required to report under US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules, which went into effect last year. The report revealed that ground water at 91% of power plants have levels of toxic pollutants higher than EPA safety standards.
According to the EPA, unless coal ash dumps are properly maintained, the toxins they contain from coal power pollution can contaminate water above and below the surface as well as the air.
The report found that there were unsafe levels of coal power pollution at more than half of the plants.
The Environmental Integrity Project learned that over half of the plants had unsafe levels of at least four toxic components of coal ash, this included 52% with unsafe amounts of arsenic and 60% with unsafe amounts of lithium.
“These new data provide convincing evidence that we should be moving…toward stronger protections for human health and the environment,” said Abel Russ, an attorney with the Environmental Integrity Project and the report’s lead author, VOA News reports.
The report wants the EPA to tighten regulations on ash dumps that are actively receiving material from power plants as well as those dumps that are inactive. Environmental groups are also calling for plant owners to be more transparent with their monitoring data.
The report states: “Some owners are not measuring pollutants with sufficiently sensitive laboratory methods, making it impossible to know whether groundwater is safe or unsafe. Other owners have failed to post all of the required monitoring data. More generally, owners are posting data in a variety of ways that render the data very difficult to use.”
In addition to these coal power pollution regulations, environmental groups want expansion of monitoring data to include drinking water near coal ash sites as contamination from these dumps can flow miles offsite and be a threat to residential drinking water wells.