Monday, February 08, 2010

EPA releases its assessments of 40 more coal-ash impoundments; index available online

The Environmental Protection Agency Thursday released information on 40 more coal ash impoundments with "high" or "significant" potential to cause loss of human life, environmental damage, or damage to infrastructure. Twenty-two of the facilities "have written action plans to make them safer," Environmental News Service reports.

Mathy Stanislaus, assistant administrator for EPA's Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response, told ENS, "The information we are releasing today shows that we continue to make progress in our efforts to prevent future coal ash spills." EPA has provided an index of the new information about the 40 impoundments, spread across 16 different facilities, in addition to the 22 company action plans on its Web site.

"The assessment reports were written by firms under contract to EPA, who are experts in the field of dam integrity, and who EPA says reflect the best professional judgment of those engineering firms," ENS reports. EPA says if companies fail to take sufficient action to protect the dams, the agency will "take further action and provide additional information to the public on the impoundments and facilities as it becomes available."

Even as the new information was released, one group was launching new complaints against EPA's relations with the electric power industry and coal-ash recyclers. Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility maintains "the coal ash industry has been working in concert with EPA behind closed doors to counter state proposals for stricter regulation of coal ash waste and help the industry market this waste as an additive to construction materials and to spread on agricultural land or use in land reclamation," ENS reports. PEER based its accusation on e-mails obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. (Read more)

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