Coal ash taints 20 U.S. sites - report

Tue Dec 13, 2011 11:08pm GMT
 

* Power plant waste product newly detected in 10 states

* EPA, watchdog group see total 157 contaminated sites

* Those who live near coal ash oppose bill in Senate

By Deborah Zabarenko, Environment Correspondent

WASHINGTON, Dec 13 (Reuters) - Toxic contamination from coal ash, a waste product of coal-fired power plants, has been detected in ground water and soil at 20 sites in 10 U.S. states, an environmental watchdog group reported on Tuesday.

These sites are the latest to contribute to a total of 157 identified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the independent Environmental Integrity Project, which released the report.

Coal ash is left after coal is burned at power plants and has concentrations of heavy metals and salts that can leach into the environment unless disposed of properly in ponds with liners and covers, said Jeff Stant, the report's editor.

But most states do not require ponds to be lined, have any construction standards or any monitoring or cleanup requirements, Stant said, adding that almost half the wastes from coal-burning in the United States are dumped this way.

Nineteen of the 20 newly identified sites show ground water contaminated with arsenic or other toxic metals exceeding the maximum contaminant level set out in the Safe Drinking Water Act.   Continued...

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