The Daily Pulse:

New Website Provides Info on Coal Ash Ponds Across the South

The Tennessee Valley Authority has to monitor more than 200 acres of land around Kingston every year for the next 30 years for high toxicity due to the coal ash dam breach in 2008. According to a joint press release from several environmental groups, 9 percent of the coal ash waste that spilled into the Emory River four years ago still remains. 

Coal ash, the waste from coal-fired plants, is usually stored in ponds to keep it away from other land and waterways, but sometimes, those ponds or dams fail, as in the case of the Kingston Power Station, and the waste pollutes land and water with toxins.

The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, Appalachian Voices, the Southern Environmental Law Center, and NC Conservation Network launched a website that aims to inform people on all the coal-fired plants in their area, and the risk these plants pose to the general public who live near them. The site, called SoutheastCoalAsh.org, provides an interactive map of coal-powered plants, safety ratings of their coal ash impoundments (ponds), and information on how people can advocate for stronger federal protections from coal ash spills. The map covers nine states and includes info on more than 100 plants. 

The joint press release state that all eight of Tennessee's plants are rated as either a "significant" hazard--which would mean serious environmental and economic damage if coal ash is spilled--or "high" hazard, which could result in human fatalities. The website lists the Bull Run Power Station in Clinton as a "high" hazard plant, and the Kingston Power Station remains a "significant" hazard.

Sandra Diaz, of Appalachian Voices, says in the press release that the potential danger of coal ash was largely unknown until the 2008 Kingston spill. "Now we know what the potential is--and yet EPA has yet to provide adequate regulations for this toxic waste," she says. 

Ann League, chair of the Energy, Ecology and Environmental Justice Committee of Statewide Organizing for Community eMpowerment, agrees in the release, and say, "We need resources like this website because people like me have very few places to get information about the serious dangers of coal ash." 

Check out the website for yourself. It doesn't include info on how the coal ash is contained at each plant, but it does have the total amount of coal ash stored at some facilities (others have "unknown" amounts of coal ash stored), and it provides links to EPA information sheets where a lot of the data on the website is collected. 

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