PSR Testifies for Health-protective Coal Ash Disposal
November 18, 2010
Seizing an opportunity to shape a policy with
nationwide implications for health, PSR mobilized its network to urge the Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) to adopt strong, health-protective regulations for the disposal
of coal ash.
PSR individual members, board members, chapter
leaders and national staff joined forces to support rigorous federal regulation
of this toxic waste. Individual members
submitted comments via email, and high-level PSR representatives gave testimony
in person at six of the EPA’s eight coal ash hearings across the country.
- Four PSR national board members testified at
hearings in Arlington, VA, Chicago IL and Knoxville TN: board president Jeff Patterson DO, president-elect
John Rachow MD Ph.D., Alan Lockwood MD FAAN, and Steven Gilbert PhD DABT.
- PSR chapter leaders and activists also testified: Roberta Richardson MD in Denver, Peter Orris MD MPH FACP FACOEM in Chicago, Lewis
Patrie MD in Charlotte NC, Karen Lewis MD in Dallas, and Maureen McCue MD PhD
- Environment & Health deputy director Barb Gottlieb also testified
in Arlington and Knoxville.
The public has until 6 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 19
to submit comments. Click for instructions
and for basic FAQ information on coal ash.
PSR was the only national organization to consistently
raise the “health voice” at the hearings.
Staff provided PSR members and environmental groups with coal
ash fact sheets, and jointly with board member Steven Gilbert and environmental
colleague Lisa Evans, wrote a 27-page report, Coal Ash: The toxic threat to
our health and environment. Lead author Barb Gottlieb met with
the EPA Assistant Administrator for the Office of Solid Waste to brief him on the
Gottlieb was interviewed
on radio in 15 cities, ranging from New York and Miami to coal country
locales like Charleston, West Virginia, highlighting the dangers of coal ash for
an audience estimated at 249,000 listeners.
She also brought the issue of coal ash to two toxics coalitions: the Coming
Clean Coalition and Alaska Community
Action on Toxics.
Coal ash, the waste material left after
utility companies burn coal to generate electricity, contains toxic heavy
metals including arsenic, lead, mercury, selenium, cadmium, chromium, thallium,
and more. Stored in huge ponds behind
earthen dams, dumped in abandoned sand and gravel pits, or used as construction
fill, coal ash leaks, leaches and spills into ground and surface waters across
Contaminants in coal ash contribute to cancer,
neurological damage, cardiovascular problems and respiratory ailments, among
other ills. Coal ash has poisoned
drinking wells in well over 100 communities.
Coal ash is currently stored in roughly 1,000
disposal sites scattered across 47 states.