Corporate stranglehold on coal regulation putting communities at risk

Interactive map illustrates widespread problem

Feature story - November 16, 2010
The coal ash epidemic continues to threaten the health and welfare of people and the environment globally. It is critical that we acknowledge this danger and adequately protect ourselves from the consequences such as water and air contamination, health risks and property damage.

To illustrate how widespread this problem is we produced this map showing 139 damage cases throughout the country. A damage case is a situation in which a clear danger to human health or the environment has been proven as a result of the disposal of coal ash. These 139 damage cases are documented, verified, and ongoing. 

Behind these unlined, leaking, and dangerous sites are well-known corporate entities. The top three corporations on this list (including quasi-governmental TVA) account for a full twenty-five percent of damage cases throughout the nation. The EPA knows it, corporations know it, the communities know it, and now you know it. Coal ash is poisoning our communities. 

The dangers of coal ash

Coal ash, the residue left over from burning coal, is a hazardous brew of arsenic, mercury, and lead. It is placed in impoundments, which are routinely close to schools, residences, and some of our most pristine natural areas. We know that coal ash is contaminating our drinking water supplies, and it is only getting worse as the waste stream grows in volume and toxicity, currently around 140 million tons per year. That translates to enough coal ash being stored in waste ponds to flow continuously over Niagara Falls for more than three days straight. The status quo is unacceptable.

EPA regulation

Though the EPA has decided to take action on this national catastrophe, much more needs to be done. The EPA must stand up to the corporate owners of these facilities and make them clean up the mess they have made. They must also work to prevent future disasters.

It's time for the EPA to protect people and not polluters. The more we burn coal, the more trouble we're in. We need to tell the EPA that we support regulating coal ash under Subtitle C of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). It's time to hold these corporations responsible. Coal ash is hazardous waste; it destroys communities, destroys our ecosystem, and unless regulated, will continue to do so in increasing amounts.

Take action

Tell the EPA: Coal ash is hazardous!