EPA Releases Action Reports for Coal Ash

Thursday afternoon the EPA announced action plans for 43 coal ash impoundments at 22 facilities throughout the U.S. Since May 2009 the EPA has been investigating the structural integrity of coal ash ponds. After each facility reviews an EPA report on their facility, they propose a plan of action. This plan is then reviewed and approved by the EPA.

Duke Power operates 5 facilities in North Carolina that require these action plans. The report for the Allen Steam Plant in Belmont, NC included a number of steps to ensure the structural stability of their impoundment. Although the plan included repairs for seepage, no where in the report do they mention water table testing. Coal ash has been linked to cause cancer and nervous system conditions when its found in the water table. We hope that the EPA will rule to label coal ash as a hazardous material, which will allow for tighter regulations. We expect the EPA to rule on this in the coming weeks.

The EPA also released ratings on an additional 40 coal ash impoundments. Most received a "high" or a "significant" hazard potential. The "high" rating means that if it broke, the ash could cause the loss of human life. "Significant" means it could cause economic or environmental destruction.

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