Greenpeace Activists Call For Federal Standards on Hazardous Coal Waste

Peaceful Protest Urges EPA to ‘Protect People, Not Polluters’

Media release - September 28, 2010
LOUISVILLE, KY – Highlighting the need for federal standards to protect public health from hazardous coal waste, Greenpeace activists climbed the downtown Seelbach Hilton Hotel in Louisville this morning, unfurling a 23 x 23-square-foot banner that read “EPA: PROTECT PEOPLE, NOT POLLUTERS – QUIT COAL.” The protest was held at the location of the 7th of eight public hearings conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on two proposals for the regulation of coal ash disposal.

“EPA needs to establish federal standards for coal ash that will protect people and not the polluters,” said Greenpeace campaigner, Robert Gardner. “Lax state regulations will continue to place communities at risk from coal ash, which has been linked to cancer, respiratory illness, neurological damage and other health issues.”

The EPA has been holding public hearings across the country on two vastly different proposals to address the growing toxic waste stream --- one would list it as hazardous waste and the other as non-hazardous. Greenpeace is calling for a listing as hazardous, also referred to as a ‘special waste designation under Subtitle C’ of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, based on EPA’s own findings.

A listing as hazardous would ensure that coal ash dumps and waste ponds have all the protections currently required at waste landfills. This would include solid waste permits and readily available technologies such as liners and monitoring systems. Strong, federally enforceable standards would ensure much greater compliance and thus a greater likelihood that future spills and disasters—and the costs associated with their cleanup—would be avoided. The number of known coal ash contamination cases presently numbers 137 in 34 states.

“Like Big Oil, Big Coal spends millions to avoid accountability. Already in 2010, the coal industry has contributed more than $13 million in campaign contributions to candidates for federal office,” said Gardner. “It’s not hard to see why government has failed to act yet, but they can and must now.”

Greenpeace has also expressed strong opposition to any expansion of Louisville Gas and Electric's (LGE) Cane Run coal ash impoundment, which is located within city limits. EPA has identified Cane Run as one of the 49 highest-risk impoundments in the nation.

“Expansion could leave LGE ratepayers holding the bag not once, but twice...once to expand it and then to decommission this toxic dump. We stand with the residents of Louisville in saying ‘no’ to a repeat of the Kingston tragedy in Tennessee and ‘no’ to wasting ratepayer money.”

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CONTACT: Jane Kochersperger, Media Officer (on site), (202) 680-3798;
Robert Gardner, Global Warming Campaigner, (540) 421-7558;

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