As the EPA plans to regulate coal ash–the substance generated from burning coal–environmental groups have released reports showing that ash has polluted more waterways and wetlands than previously thought.
The Environmental Integrity Project and Earthjustice say they have analyzed soil and water data and found 39 additional coal ash sites in 21 states where nearby groundwater, wetlands, or surface waters are contaminated. Those sites join the EPA’s list of 70 other sites known to be contaminated, which agency officials say are the justification for new regulation.
The contaminants are heavy metals, such as arsenic and lead, leaching out of the ash, some of which the environmental groups say have been found in drinking water at levels far exceeding health advisories. The sites include those in states throughout the Ohio River valley.
The problem is often found at older, unlined coal ash ponds, which could become a thing of the past if certain aspects of the EPA’s proposal are adopted. Liners would be required, and coal ash ponds phased out in favor of landfills and more recycling.