Each year, coal-fired power plants dispose of over 100 million tons of coal combustion wastes (CCW’s). These wastes are put in wet ponds, mines, and landfills. Many disposal sites are unlined and not monitored. EPA’s latest estimate of the number of coal ash waste ponds has recently increased 40% (from 300 to 427).
In Virginia, there is a “beneficial use “clause in DEQ regulations which allows fly ash to be used as structural “fill”. When this is the case, there are few rules. The site chosen for the ash to be dumped does not require a liner, nor does it require monitoring. The fact is, if the “beneficial use” clause is used, coal waste is subject to far less regulation than household garbage!
Nationwide, CCW’s have contributed to contamination of water. There has been both public and private drinking water contamination in at least eight states: Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, North Dakota, Georgia, and Maryland. New contaminated sites are being discovered with alarming frequency. Included sites are: Faulkner Landfill, Charles County MD; Battlefield Golf Course, Chesapeake, VA; PPL Montana Power Plant, Colstrip, Montana; Gambrills Fly Ash Site, Anne Arundel County, MD. ( Testimony of Lisa Evans, Earthjustice, before U.S. House of Representatives, June 10, 2008)