- Lisa JacksonEPA Administrator
Coal Ash is Hazardous to Our Health
Your help is needed to assure that coal ash—a toxic, dangerous waste—is regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA promised to regulate coal ash after more than 1 billion gallons of it burst from a Tennessee storage pond last December, poisoning water supplies, destroying homes and threatening hundreds of residents.
But despite the threat, coal ash remains federally unregulated and uncontrolled. Our kitchen garbage is better regulated.
This waste can cause cancer, birth defects, lung and organ damage, and other health threats. It contains such dangerous chemicals as arsenic, lead, mercury, chromium and cadmium. There is enough coal ash in ponds and landfills across the country to flow continuously over Niagara Falls for more than 3 days straight!
The good news is that the law authorizes the EPA to provide strong protections that will greatly reduce the threat to our water supplies and our health. However, the EPA must use the strongest parts of the law in order to ensure protection for all communities threatened by coal ash disposal. Coal ash must be regulated as hazardous waste, and coal ash disposal in ponds must be phased out.
Your support is important because the coal and power industries don't want to clean up their mess. They're pushing EPA hard to take the easy route and issue unenforceable guidance that won't protect our health and environment.
- EPA Administrator
- U.S. Senate
As you know, coal combustion waste -- commonly referred to as coal ash -- is a problem for dozens of states and hundreds of communities across the country. Regulating coal ash has been ignored for far too long. But you have said your agency plans to regulate coal ash by the end of this year, and I support your commitment to clean up coal ash ponds and landfills once and for all.
Please regulate coal ash as hazardous waste under subtitle C of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). The EPA should issue federally enforceable minimum standards that provide strong protection and nationwide consistency. And please require the phase-out of coal ash ponds; they pose unacceptable risks to our health and environment.
Thirty-five states are home to 584 coal ash ponds and hundreds of coal ash landfills. The spill in Harriman, Tennessee last December shows how dangerous some of these sites can be. Please stand up against industry pressure and regulate coal ash as hazardous waste. Our health and a clean environment depend on it.
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