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Environmental Groups Push For Coal Ash Regulations

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An environmental study has identified four Ohio sites where they say coal ash dumps are contaminating groundwater with heavy metals. ideastream’s Bill Rice reports some accuse the Ohio EPA of being negligent in failing to warn citizens of the dangers.

Sunday, August 29, 2010 at 5:12 pm

The study by the environmental integrity project identifies a total of 39 coal ash dump sites in 21 states where water testing shows amounts of heavy metals in excess of federal standards. That’s in addition to 31 sites identified in a previous study by the group, and 67 cited by the U.S. EPA.

The four sites in Ohio are the first in the state to be publicly identified.

Rachel Belz of Ohio Citizen Action, which is working to bring the studies to the public’s attention, says the toxic substance figures come from the Ohio EPA. Private wells close to a dump site near Canton are shown to contain heavy metals at 30 times safe federal levels.

Belz says Ohio laws are lax when it comes to reporting pollution from coal ash, a waste product of coal burning power facilities.

Belz: “There is nothing in the law currently that says that the Ohio EPA has to get this information out to the public. In fact, ohio is one of 29 states that is not currently requiring any monitoring of coal ash wet ponds and landfills.”

The U.S. EPA will soon begin regional hearings on whether and how to regulate coal ash dumping at the federal level. Ohio Citizen Action, the Sierra Club and other environmental groups are pushing for a new law that would classify coal ash as hazardous waste and give the EPA more authority to enforce stepped up regulation.

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