Friday, October 28, 2016

Georgia approves new coal ash rules; environmentalists say rules not strong enough

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources on Wednesday unanimously approved new rules for storage, handling and disposal of coal ash, Dan Chapman reports for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "The new rules apply to more coal-ash storage and disposal sites than covered by federal law. Landfills that accept ash must routinely test groundwater for contamination. And landfill neighbors, via their county commissioners, must be alerted if any leaks occur."

Chapman notes, "The vote comes two days after The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that arsenic and other toxic metals — at levels 20 or 30 times federal drinking water standards — have been discovered in the groundwater near a half-dozen Georgia Power plants."

Jeff Cown, director of the state’s Environmental Protection Division, said "the rules will safeguard Georgia’s land and water" and that stricter monitoring and cleanup is possible in the future, Chapman writes. Environmentalists said the rules don't go far enough. Chris Bowers, a senior attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center, said in a statement: “We continue to advocate for stronger, more protective rules, especially in light of the fact that initial groundwater monitoring results show high levels of coal ash contaminants. Leaving the ash behind in unlined, leaking pits is not an acceptable solution for Georgia.” (Read more)

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