Wednesday, October 28, 2009

EPA releases study of coal ash and its risks

A new Environmental Protection Agency report says potentially toxic pollutants found in coal ash are worrisome because they can concentrate in large amounts that are discharged into waterways or seep into groundwater. The 233-page report brought accolades from the environmental community and a renewed call for regulatory action, Anne Paine of The Tennessean reports.

"We applaud the EPA for addressing coal's toxic legacy head on, for delving deeper and completing this long overdue investigation," Mary Anne Hitt, deputy director of the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal Campaign, said in a statement. Hitt says that she hopes now the EPA will place strong federal regulations on coal ash, Paine reports, and the EPA has said before it will make that decision by the end of the year. Industry officials say that labeling coal ash as hazardous would undermine its recycling into concrete and other products.

"Many of the common pollutants found in coal combustion wastewater (e.g., selenium, mercury, and arsenic) are known to cause environmental harm and can potentially represent a human health risk," the report says. Arsenic causes liver poisoning and developmental abnormalities in fish and is associated with an increased risk of liver and bladder cancer in humans, Paine reports. Mercury can cause kidney and other damage to humans and wildlife, and short-term exposure to a level higher than the legal limit of selenium can damage a person's nervous system. Selenium can also result in fish kills and reproductive failure. (Read more)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Didn't you just know deep in your heart, that there was a problem with coal ash. Now, Mississippi Power Company wants to build a lignite coal-powered electric plant in Kemper County, MS. Mineral rights, solely for the purpose of ripping out lignite, have been purchased from unsuspecting landowners in east Mississippi since the early 70s.
The piper is getting ready for his paycheck.