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Toxic coal ash must be regulated!

Posted by Barbara Gottlieb on January 28, 2010

Coal ash – the toxic stew of pollutants “scrubbed” from coal smokestack emissions – has emerged as a grave threat to health.  Filled with contaminants like arsenic, lead, selenium, and mercury, it is stored in landfills and huge ponds in communities across the country. 

In honor of the first national “Day of Action on Coal Ash,” I urge you to tell Congress that we need federal regulation of this health-threatening toxic sludge.

Coal ash is one of our nation’s biggest waste products. Nearly 600 coal ash ponds in 35 states, plus hundreds of landfills, hold enough coal ash to flow continuously over Niagara Falls for over three days straight. Gross – and frightening.

 In December 2008, a coal ash pond in Tennessee burst through a poorly constructed dam.  “Pond” conveys the wrong idea – this was a lake, and it sent one billion gallons of toxic coal ash sludge surging over 300 acres, damaging dozens of homes and poisoning rivers and water supplies. It was a horrifying demonstration of the destruction and contamination coal ash can unleash. 

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is currently drafting regulations that would regulate coal ash.  Yet, well-heeled lobbyists for the coal and power industries are meeting with staff in the Office of Management and Budget, hoping to have that office impede the EPA’s ability to regulate this hazardous material. 

Please email your congressperson, voicing your support to have coal ash designated as hazardous waste and firmly regulated.  It’s high time we get one of our nation’s biggest toxic threats under control.
 

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