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Kill toxic coal ash

Posted: October 2, 2009 9:34 p.m.
Updated: October 3, 2009 4:55 a.m.
U.S. coal-fired power plants generate more than 130 million tons of toxic coal ash annually and yet there are no specific federal regulations governing its disposal.

The Environmental Protection Agency can change that by labeling coal ash as a hazardous material, offering communities sufficient protection from this toxic substance.

It is clear from the list of more than 580 coal ash sites released on Aug. 31 that this is not a state or local issue, but a threat to communities across the country.

Coal ash contains arsenic, selenium, lead, mercury, cadmium, chromium, boron, thallium and aluminum. Those toxins can leach into groundwater.

Clearly, coal ash is waste that deserves more than a regular "household waste" classification.

The EPA must create federally enforceable minimum standards, issue permits, conduct inspections of coal ash facilities and - most importantly - enforce regulations for coal combustion wastes.

Doing so will provide the critical nationwide consistency necessary for the protection of our communities.


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