Thursday, August 26, 2010

Pollution from power plants' solid waste

Before I lost my job as a newspaper writer and editor, I was about to work on a series of articles about coal ash. For a while I had wondered about the landfills and other places where solid waste from burning coal was stored. A lot of talk and effort had gone into air pollution and water pollution, including thermal pollution, but I had heard very little about the ash and sludge that was stored on or near power plant sites. I live just outside Huntington, West Virginia, and there are a number of coal-burning power plants within, say, a hundred miles of here. Some are old; some are new. Some big, some small.

I looked at power plants using Google Earth to get an idea of the size of these ash disposal fields and the sludge landfills. I had also made contact with one power company to visit one or two of these places to see what was going on.

Then came the TVA spill, and the problem became visible.

But my employer was having cash flow problems, and the owner decided he needed a second person to cover college football more than he needed someone who could look into questions such as this, so my job was eliminated.

But I've still wondered about it.

Today this news release hit the Internet:

WASHINGTON, D.C.//August 26, 2010//Days before the US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) kicks off a series of regional hearings across the United States on whether and how to regulate toxic coal ash waste from coal-fired pow er plants, a major new study identifies 39 additional coal-ash dump sites in 21 states that are contaminating drinking water or surface water with arsenic and other heavy metals.  The report by the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP), Earthjustice and the Sierra Club documents the fact that state governments are not adequately monitoring the coal combustion waste (CCW) disposal sites and that the USEPA needs to enact strong new regulations to protect the public.   

Among the sites on the list were the Cardinal and Gavin plants along the Ohio River in Ohio.

Now, I admit I don't know much about all the groups that released this report. And I'm nowhere near qualified to delve into the entire report and give an educated opinion today or tonight. But sooner or later, it would seem the question of what happens to these ash piles and such is addressed. Or perhaps not. They're so big, and any damage -- repeat, any damage, if any -- that has happened may be irreversible. That's a question for experts to answer, and one that will take some serious research on the part of someone like me while the experts on all sides of this issue prepare for the coming debate.

1 comment:

plumbing said...

Solid waste from power plants kills livings around the area.