Skip to Navigation
Skip to Content

Support PSR!

Make a difference in the challenge to confront global warming and prevent nuclear war and the development and use of nuclear weapons.

Donate Now »

Take Action

Guided by the values and expertise of medicine and public health, Physicians for Social Responsibility works to protect humanity from the gravest threats to health and survival. Right now, you can make a difference by registering your comments on the EPA's new Clean Power rule to limit carbon from existing coal-burning power plants. Just click the button to get started.

PSR calls on OMB to release Proposed EPA rule on coal ash

March 15, 2010

PSR met recently with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to urge it to review and release a proposed Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule that would tighten up the handling of toxic coal ash.

The OMB is an executive branch office whose responsibilities include ensuring that agency rules are consistent with the President's budget and administration policies.  They have been reviewing the proposed EPA rule since last October.

Coal ash is the residue that remains after coal is burned:  cinders, ash, and the pollution particles that smokestack scrubbers remove from the smoke.  While its precise composition depends on the coal that was burned and the use of scrubbers, typically coal ash contains arsenic, boron, cadmium, lead, mercury, sulfur and other heavy metals and toxic substances, including carcinogens.

The ash is often mixed with water and stored in huge ponds.  When the dam on a Kingston, TN “impoundment area” burst in late 2008, it flooded 300 acres of nearby river valley with thick, toxic sludge.

Dangerous and dirty as coal ash is, it is not currently classified as a hazardous waste.  Thus, federal regulations treat it no more strictly than household garbage.  Instead, its handling and use by industry is left to the states.  The result is a patchwork of storage arrangements that includes, according to the EPA, 44 coal ash sites that would pose a “high hazard” to human life, should their storage dams rupture.

Alan Lockwood, neurologist, professor, and PSR board member, joined E&H director Kristen Welker-Hood and deputy director Barb Gottlieb to urge the OMB to complete its review of the rule so that the EPA can release the rule for public scrutiny and public comment. 

Share

EmailFacebookTwitter
Share on Facebook
Cancel
Share on MySpace
Cancel
Share on Twitter
A short URL will be added to the end of your Tweet.

Cancel
Share on LinkedIn
Cancel

Related Contact

Action Alerts

  • Reduce Carbon Pollution -- Support a Strong EPA Rule

    Guided by the values and expertise of medicine and public health, Physicians for Social Responsibility works to protect humanity from the gravest threats to health and survival. Right now, you can make a difference by registering your comments on the EPA's new Clean Power rule to limit carbon from existing coal-burning power plants. Just click the button to get started.

  • Let Diplomacy Work with Iran!

    Please tell your representative and senators to resist Congressional meddling with crucial negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program.

More action alerts»

Resources

In the Spotlight

  • July 17, 2014
    Our Best Opportunity to Cut Climate Change
    We need you to take action now! Tell the EPA that its proposed rule to cut carbon pollution from power plants Is vitally important and on the right track – but can be strengthened.