Archive for the ‘Coal Ash’ Category

Coal Ash: 130 Million Tons of Waste by CBS 60 Minutes

August 15, 2010 8:06 PM
Coal Ash: 130 Million Tons of Waste
By CBSNews
We burn so much coal in this country for electricity that every year that process generates 130 million tons of waste. Most of it is coal ash, and it contains some nasty stuff. Environmental scientists tell us that the concentrations of mercury, arsenic, lead and other toxic metals are considerably higher in coal ash than in ordinary soil.

When coal ash is disposed of in dry, lined impoundments it is said to be safe. But it’s often dumped into wet ponds – there are nearly 500 of them across the country – and in those cases the ash could pose health risks to the nearby communities.

Jim Roewer, one of the top lobbyists for the power industry, told 60 Minutes correspondent Lesley Stahl that nearly half of the electricity in the United States is generated by coal.

“Coal’s gonna be around for a long time,” he said.

“We really can’t get rid of coal,” Stahl remarked.

“We shouldn’t get rid of coal,” Roewer said.

“Well, should or shouldn’t, we can’t. And coal makes waste. Would you say that the industry has done a good job of disposing of the coal ash waste?” Stahl asked.

“We can do better,” Roewer said.

Asked if that means no, Roewer told Stahl, “Well, we had a Kingston spill.”

That’s Kingston, Tenn., where last December a giant retention pool of coal ash buckled under the weight of five decades of waste.

A billion gallons of muck shot into the Emory River like a black tsunami, engulfing homes, uprooting trees, and throwing fish out of the water.

Residents woke up to an apocalyptic moonscape of “ashbergs” everywhere. The spill was 100 times larger than the Exxon Valdez and it was all coal ash.

Stahl had never heard of coal ash before the Kingston incident.

“Wasn’t a problem,” Roewer remarked.

“Well, it was a problem, we just didn’t know,” Stahl replied.

The problem is: where do you put all that stuff? The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) dumped up to 1,000 tons of coal ash every day into a wet pond near the plant, slowly amassing a waste-cake 60 feet high. Some of the ingredients, according to the EPA, were arsenic, lead, mercury, selenium, cadmium and other toxic metals.

“You know, some people say that this is a poisoned meadow,” Stahl said to Leo Francendese, an environmental “Mr. Fix It,” sent by the EPA to clean up this mess.

“In the wrong circumstances coal ash is dangerous. Breathing it, that’s dangerous,” Francendese replied.

The summer heat can bake the ash into a fine talc-like powder that can wreak havoc on your lungs.

So while the government has never formally labeled coal ash a hazardous waste, it’s being treated as such at the Kingston site.

As the 60 Minutes team left the site, they were scrubbed clean, as was their car.

Francendese explained that every vehicle that exits the site must go through the cleaning process.

Gary Topmiller lives right on the river. He had a front row seat when the spill covered his dock.

“Now what the doctors did tell me was, ‘Get out of there.’ And I said, ‘I don’t have any place to go,'” Topmiller told Stahl.

Asked how he lives now and whether he goes out on the water, Topmiller said, “No. We don’t go out of the house.”

From the house, he sees scientists collecting samples to analyze just how bad the water is. The river looks clear, but Topmiller says it’s deceptive.

He shows Stahl a water sample he collected himself in a jar. “Turn it upside down and start shakin’ it. And this is what the river looks like once it – once that stuff gets suspended in it,” Topmiller said. As Stahl shakes the jar gray muck inside clouds the seemingly clear water. “And how they’re gonna get that all out of the river, I don’t have an idea.”

Most of his neighbors have packed up and left. Go down the river and you pass home after home that are deserted, the hubbub of children replaced by the hum of heavy machinery.

Those left behind say the noise is one thing: what really infuriates them is executives from the power plant telling them that coal ash is as safe as dirt.

“We have broken the trust,” Anda Ray said.

Ray oversees environmental policy at the Tennessee Valley Authority, which is responsible for the spill. Stahl asked her how toxic she thinks coal ash is.

“I’d say that the constituents, the things that are in the coal ash, are the same things that are naturally occurring in soil and rock,” Ray replied.

“So, is it like dirt? Would you say that? Would you say that sentence? That stuff is like dirt,” Stahl asked.

“That ash material is higher than dirt in two areas. And that is arsenic and thallium. And we are monitoring those and the effect on the water,” Ray said.

Asked if she would swim in the river now, Ray told Stahl, “Yes, I would.”

She later retracted, remembering there’s an advisory against it. “We’ve advised people not to swim in the river where there’s ash.”

Stahl then asked about company reports repeatedly questioning the stability of the ash ponds.

“Should the TVA have seen this coming?” Stahl asked. “You were warned repeatedly.”

“Lesley, there were red flags that have been noticed all through the years. And we recognize that those red flags should’ve been addressed. But yes, we missed them, and we don’t ever want to miss them again,” Ray replied.

The spilled ash is now being loaded onto trains and sent off to a dry landfill in Alabama. Right now, coal ash disposal is regulated by the states, some of which have strict rules, some hardly any at all.

The new head of the EPA, Lisa Jackson, is reviewing whether the federal government should get involved by labeling coal ash a “hazardous waste,” which would mean much tighter regulations and oversight.

“Why wouldn’t you right now, this minute, on 60 Minutes, declare that coal ash is a hazardous waste?” Stahl asked.

“EPA, in making a regulatory determination, has to look at a number of factors, including the toxicity of the material and how it’s currently managed, but that’s done according to law. And I have committed that no later than December, we will make a regulatory proposal with respect to this material,” Jackson explained.

The industry opposes calling coal ash a hazardous waste. They’re pushing for another solution: recycling.

Ted Yoakam, a lawyer in Virginia, says recycling can breed its own disaster. He says that in 2002, the state’s power company, Dominion, got rid of some of its excess coal ash by giving it to a golf course in Chesapeake.

“How many tons of coal ash, do you know, did they use to build this golf course?” Stahl asked.

“We know that they put at least 1.5 million tons,” Yoakam said.

In a videotaped city council meeting, a consultant hired by the company that built the golf course assured the mayor that coal ash was safe for reuse.

“In every aspect it’s the same as dirt, as it’s been explained to me. I’m not aware of any negative aspects of it at all,” the consultant explained.

The mayor then turned to a Dominion executive.

Asked if there are any environmental concerns, the executive told the mayor, “No, sir. We at Dominion Power are fully in compliance with all the federal and state regulations.”

Two years later, an internal company study about handling the ash for the golf course recommended that workers use “impervious gloves” and “particulate-filtering respirators” due to “potential health…risks.”

Robyn Pierce and her neighbor Stacy Moorman live across the street from the golf course.

“It was said that they were told respirators and body suits. Nobody came up and down either one of these two streets and handed out wardrobe for us,” Pierce said.

“But our children were out there,” Moorman remarked.

“Our children were out there playing in the yard breathing this stuff. How does this happen?” Pierce asked.

Also, Dominion’s internal risk assessment warned of the dangers of coal ash leaching into the water supply. To prevent that, the contractor who built the golf course was supposed to build a two-foot barrier under the coal ash, and one 18 inches on top.

The contractor’s engineer certified this was done. But attorney Ted Yoakam, who represents townspeople who are suing Dominion, suspects it wasn’t.

“Yes. As you can see right here, it’s right at the surface,” Yoakam said, pointing out to little mounds of coal ash on the surface of the grass. “Insects have pulled it up. You can see how it flies away.”

Last year, the city dug into the golf course, did a test and found elevated levels of toxic metals in the water.

“With all the knowledge that Dominion had about the coal ash and the lead and the arsenic and beryllium and all the poison to put it in this environment, it’s just an outrage,” Yoakam said.

That water test was just for the golf course; Dominion told 60 Minutes EPA testing “shows no harm to residential wells” around the golf course.

In reply to that argument, Stacy Moorman says: “I invite anybody from the companies who have put it over there to come to my house and have dinner. And I will use that tap water.”

Moorman and her neighbors think it’s too risky to drink the water. So, after Dominion refused to provide them with bottled water, they began trudging to a local church, where the city pipes in guaranteed clean water.

Dominion declined to give 60 Minutes an interview, but most power companies rely on recycling because it cuts the 130 million tons of coal waste every year in half. The industry calls recycling “beneficial use.”

“Ugh! Don’t even… The only people it was beneficial for were for those utility companies that had to get that stuff off their hands because they were already in violation with stockpiling too much. That is what ‘beneficial use’ meant,” Robyn Pierce said.

But the EPA in the Bush administration endorsed beneficial use and now coal ash is recycled in dozens of ways: as cement substitute, it’s also placed under roads and in deserted mines and it’s added to products from carpets to bowling balls to bathroom sinks.

While the industry says the uses have been studied, Stahl asked Lisa Jackson whether the EPA knows if some of the recycled products are safe.

“Schoolroom carpeting,” Stahl asked.

“I don’t know. I have no data that says that’s safe at this point,” Jackson replied.

“Kitchen counters,” Stahl asked.

“The same,” Jackson replied.

“Fifty thousand tons of coal ash byproducts have been used in agriculture. What’s being done through EPA to look at the use of coal ash in agricultural products? Anything? Is there a study?” Stahl asked.

“I’m not sure that there’s any study out there right now,” Jackson said.

“How did we get to a place where coal ash is in products without anybody knowing?” Stahl asked.

“We’re here, now, because coal ash at this time isn’t a regulated material by the federal government,” Jackson replied.

If the EPA declares coal ash a hazardous waste, lobbyist Jim Roewer says “beneficial use” would die and the cost of disposal would skyrocket.

“We look at that and we’re looking at something on the order of 12 to 13 billion,” he explained.

“And who’d pay for that?” Stahl asked. “We know. The customers.”

“Environmental protection doesn’t come cheap,” Roewer replied.

He says the current state-by-state regulatory system may not be perfect, but it works.

“Could you say right now that the disposal in all the coal ash plants today are safe, and that they’re all doing a proper job?” Stahl asked.

“All I can guarantee is that they’re going [to] do their best to manage coal ash safely so that you don’t have a release like Kingston,” Roewer replied.

Asked if all these plants are safe, Roewer said, “That’s what the state regulations are all about to insure the safe management of coal ash.”

“But you’re not saying they are safe. You’re playing word games with me. You’re not saying, ‘They are safe,'” Stahl said.

“You want me to guarantee that…they’re absolutely safe,” Roewer asked.

“I think everybody…yes, I do,” Stahl replied.

“Well, what I can say is the state regulations and the utility management practices are put in place to ensure with a goal of safe management of coal ash,” Roewer said.

“I don’t think many people really trust the utility industry, I’m sorry to tell you,” Stahl remarked.

Roewer’s reply? “You’re not the first one to tell me that.”

Produced by Shachar Bar-On


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EPA’s Blind Spot: Hexavalent Chromium in Coal Ash
Coal ash may be the secret source of cancer-causing chromium in your drinking water

EPA’s Blind Spot: Hexavalent Chromium in Coal Ash

Author: Lisa Evans, Earthjustice Contributing Authors: Barb Gottlieb, Physicians for Social Responsibility; Lisa Widawsky, Jeff Stant, Abel Russ, John Dawes, Environmental Integrity Project Environmental Consultant: J. Russell Boulding
February 1, 2011


Hexavalent chromium is again in the headlines. In the 1990s, Erin Brockovich achieved fame by uncovering the presence of extraordinarily high levels of industrial hexavalent chromium contamination in the drinking water of a small desert town ravaged by cancer. Today, attention to the deadly chemical is fueled by new data and extensive scientific research. In December 2010, the Environmental Working Group released a report documenting the cancer-causing chemical in tap water in 31 of 35 cities tested in the United States.1 Days later, on December 31, 2010, the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) completed a multi-year, peer- reviewed examination of the oral toxicity of the chemical, involving scientists in both the public and private sectors, and released a ground breaking proposal to establish a public health goal for hexavalent chromium in drinking water of just 0.02 parts per billion (or ug/L), 5,000 times lower than the current federal drinking water standard for total chromium.2

On January 11, 2011, on the heels of these announcements, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued new guidelines recommending that public water utilities nationwide test drinking water for hexavalent chromium (Cr(VI)).3 EPA’s swift reaction to the widespread presence of hexavalent chromium in American tap water is laudable. However, EPA’s well-placed concern for protection of public health has a dangerous blind spot. While government regulators express concern for small quantities of the cancer-causing substance in our water, they are ignoring one of the largest sources of the hazardous chemical—coal combustion waste (or coal ash)4 from the nation’s coal burning power plants.

This report documents the connection between coal ash and hexavalent chromium. It reviews the sources, toxicity, and known coal ash dump sites where chromium has been found in groundwater. The report identifies studies of numerous power plants where testing of coal ash leachate found extremely high levels of hexavalent chromium. The report also identifies 28 coal ash disposal sites in 17 states where groundwater was documented to exceed existing federal or state standards for chromium and to exceed by many orders of magnitude the proposed California drinking water goal for hexavalent chromium. These contaminated coal ash dump sites are likely the tip of the iceberg. The threat of drinking water contamination by hexavalent chromium is present in hundreds of communities near unlined coal ash disposal sites across the United States. While the EPA doesn’t need another reason to define coal ash as a hazardous waste, it certainly has one now.

Hexavalent Chromium and Coal Ash: The Deadly Connection

It has long been known that chromium readily leaches from coal ash.5 Chromium, however, occurs primarily in two forms: trivalent chromium, which is an essential nutrient in small amounts, and hexavalent chromium, Cr(IV), which is highly toxic even in small doses. In EPA’s latest report on the hazardous contaminants in coal ash, the agency made two important findings:

 Coal ash leaches chromium in amounts that can greatly exceed EPA’s threshold for hazardous waste at 5000 parts per billion (ppb),6 and

 The chromium that leaches from coal ash is “nearly 100 percent [hexavalent] Cr(VI).”7

Remarkably, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the energy industry have also known for years about the aggressive leaching of hexavalent chromium from coal ash. In a 2006 report co-sponsored by DOE, the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) found definitively that the chromium that leaches from coal ash (including FGD sludge) is 97– 100 percent hexavalent chromium.8

These findings, buried in government reports, need to see the light of day. Hundreds – maybe thousands – of leaking and unlined coal ash dumps are situated near water supplies. EPA and DOE have demonstrated that the contaminated leachate (the liquid leaking from coal ash landfills and ponds) is often rich in this cancer-causing chemical. Therefore it is imperative that EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson act decisively to protect U.S. communities from this significant source of hexavalent chromium.

Hexavalent Chromium’s Deadly Link to Cancer

In 2008, a two-year study by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Toxicology Program (NTP)9 demonstrated that hexavalent chromium in drinking water causes cancer in laboratory animals.10 While it has long been known that hexavalent chromium causes lung cancer when inhaled, the NTP undertook a study of Cr(VI) ingestion following a request from California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA). Based on a variety of cancerous oral and intestinal tumors, the NTP study definitively concluded “hexavalent chromium can also cause cancer in animals when administered orally.”11

Furthermore, scientists believe chronic ingestion of minute amounts of Cr(VI) can be harmful. In fact, after an extensive peer-reviewed study, the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment lowered its original hexavalent chromium draft goal by 66 percent this year to account for the special sensitivity of infants and children to carcinogens. California’s proposed public health goal, 0.02 parts per billion, is a mere 0.02% of the present federal drinking water standard for total chromium. If the current federal drinking water standard (100 parts per billion) is compared to a 100-yard football field, California’s proposed goal for Cr(VI)would be a distance of three-quarters of an inch.

According to EPA’s 2010 draft toxicological review of hexavalent chromium, EPA agrees with the estimate of cancer potency used by California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment. California’s Draft Public Health Goal12 and the U.S. EPA Draft Toxicological Review of Hexavalent Chromium13 both use the same cancer potency value for ingested hexavalent chromium of 0.5 (mg/kg-d)-1. Using EPA’s default assumptions for body weight and drinking water ingestion rate, it is possible to estimate the lifetime cancer risk associated with drinking water at the current federal drinking water standard for total chromium of 100 ppb (established in 1991) – the risk is 1.4 in 1,000 people.14 This risk is 140 – 1400 times greater than EPA’s range of acceptable cancer risk (between1 in 100,000 and 1 in 1,000,000 people).15 Clearly, in view of this elevated risk recognized by both EPA and OEHHA, the 1991 federal drinking water standard of 100 ppb for total chromium is not sufficiently protective of human health from ingestion of hexavalent chromium. While a new federal drinking water standard for hexavalent chromium may be higher than California’s proposed goal of 0.02 ppb, this health-protective level, as well as the current federal standard, are used as a comparison to coal ash-contaminated waters in this report.

Ingestion of Hexavalent Chromium Is Missing from EPA’s Coal Ash Risk Assessment

Although the cancer risk associated with Cr(VI) in groundwater is substantial, EPA completely ignored this risk in its proposed coal ash rulemaking. While Cr(VI) was discussed in the preamble to the proposed rule, it was treated as a carcinogen by inhalation only. For purposes of calculating the human health risk by ingestion, Cr(VI) was treated as a non-carcinogen.16 Despite the clear findings of NTP’s 2008 studies, the cancer risk of ingested Cr(VI) was not mentioned once in EPA’s 400-page “Health and Ecological Risk Assessment for Coal Combustion Wastes.”

Coal Ash Dump Sites Are Significant Sources of Hexavalent Chromium

Coal ash can leach deadly quantities of Cr(VI) to drinking water.17 For example, in the 2006 study18 by the Electric Power Research Institute, an organization that vehemently opposes a hazardous designation for coal ash, EPRI tested leachate—liquid collected from wells, ponds or seeps at coal ash dumps—at 29 coal ash landfills and ponds and found hexavalent chromium at hundreds of times the proposed California drinking water goal at 15 coal ash disposal sites. Their findings included three landfills where leachate exceeded the proposed drinking water goal by 5,000 times, with two landfills exceeding that goal by 100,000 and 250,000 times. The location of these potentially deadly dumps is not known, but the high levels of hexavalent chromium at the sites may pose a danger to those living near the landfills. Table A lists the coal ash dump sites where leachate was found containing hexavalent chromium over 5,000 times the proposed California health goal.

Table A

Coal Ash Dump Sites Identified by the Electric Power Research Institute with Leachate containing Hexavalent Chromium (Cr(VI))

The access/view the table go to page 5 – http://www.psr.org/assets/pdfs/epas-blind-spot.pdf

In addition, data from known coal ash disposal sites obtained from EPA reports19 and recent studies by Earthjustice, the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP) and the Sierra Club20 make it eminently clear that the threat is widespread and serious. For example, chromium in groundwater contaminated by a coal ash landfill in Ohio reached 1.68 parts per million – a level 84,000 times California’s proposed drinking water goal (if nearly all the chromium measured was hexavalent, as predicted in both EPA’s and EPRI’s reports). Table B lists 28 coal ash dump sites in 17 states where coal ash contaminated groundwater was found to contain chromium at levels exceeding the current federal drinking water standard (100 ppb) or an applicable state standard (50 ppb for groundwater in North Carolina). Often EPA did not provide a specific value for the chromium found in groundwater wells, but simply indicated that it was greater than the federal standard of 100 ppb. These chromium concentrations, if 100 percent hexavalent chromium, represent a level 5,000 times higher than the proposed California goal. In Table B, all chromium is assumed to be hexavalent chromium, a premise supported by the studies conducted by EPA, DOE and EPRI. In addition, most of the coal ash ponds, landfills and fill sites listed below are unlined – a factor that greatly increases the danger to neighboring communities. Lastly, while many of the sites below have undergone some form of remediation under Superfund or state authorities, in most cases the contamination has been left in place, and there may be little attempt to monitor its migration offsite to protect well users from harmful exposure to hexavalent chromium or other toxic metals commonly found in coal ash leachate.

Uniontown, Ohio: A Coal Ash Site Where Health May be Endangered

The Industrial Excess Landfill, near Uniontown, Ohio is an example of the kind of site that may be posing a threat to the surrounding community from contamination of drinking water with hexavalent chromium. The landfill is a Superfund site surrounded on three sides by residential neighborhoods. Roughly one million tons of coal ash were dumped at the landfill in the 1960s. The landfill was closed in 1980, and EPA listed it as a Superfund site in 1986. Groundwater monitoring since then has shown chromium concentrations to be increasing to very dangerous levels. Systematic groundwater monitoring began in 1987, and chromium was detected at concentrations up to 180 ppb in off-site wells. Sampling in the early 1990s found concentrations of chromium over 100 ppb in eight monitoring wells, with concentrations up to 739 ppb. Monitoring through 2001 detected chromium at up to 1,680 ppb in off-site wells located in or near residential areas- over 15 times the federal drinking water standard. Residents report many incidences of cancer in the affected neighborhoods.

Despite alarming evidence of off-site groundwater contamination with heavy metals, including chromium, metals monitoring was phased out around 2001, and remedial actions stopped in 2005. And yet the potential for human exposure to this contamination is very high—there are almost 4,000 private drinking water wells within two miles of the site, and about 90 wells within 1,500 feet. Some homes have been provided with alternative water supplies, but many have not. The cancer risk associated with drinking water having chromium concentrations over 100 ppb is greater than 1 in 1,000. The risk associated with the highest known concentration, 1,680 ppb, would be greater than 1 in 50. Furthermore, this cancer risk would be amplified by the presence of arsenic and other carcinogens in the coal ash contaminant plume.

EPA Laboratory Testing of Coal Ash Reveals Dramatic Chromium Leaching

EPA also found that leachate produced in the laboratory from coal ash at a variety of plants contained sky-high chromium. In a 2009 report, EPA tested coal ash leachate by obtaining waste from numerous operating power plants.21 EPA found that many ashes and sludges produce leachate extremely rich in chromium. The table below provides EPA’s results from five plants. These results represent the highest level of chromium in leachate determined by EPA lab tests. Unlike the EPRI data in Table A and the groundwater and surface water data in Table B, the results below were not field samples. However, EPA used a leach test that mimics field conditions in order to determine the range of chromium that would leach from coal ash disposed under real-world conditions. If this leachate were seeping or leaking into groundwater from a landfill or pond, it could threaten drinking water wells and human health. While the public is not likely to be exposed to coal ash leachate at full strength, leachate this rich in chromium, even if it is diluted as it flows through groundwater, can still pose a significant hazard when it reaches drinking water wells.

How much chromium is released by U.S. Coal-Fired Power Plants each year?

The amount of chromium released by our nation’s coal-burning power plants dwarfs all other industrial sources. According to EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory, the electric power industry dumps over ten million pounds of chromium and chromium compounds in on-and off-site disposal sites each year. Between 2000 and 2009, over 116 million pounds of chromium and chromium compounds were released from coal-fired power plants. The overwhelming majority of this chromium ends up in unlined or inadequately lined coal ash landfills, ponds, and mines. See Table D.

In 2009, the electric power industry reported 10.6 million pounds of chromium and chromium compounds were released to the environment (10.1 million of which was dumped in disposal sites). These 10.6 million pounds represent 24 percent of the total chromium and chromium compounds released by all industries in 2009. See Chart, below. In fact, the top ten chromium-releasing coal-fired power plants alone released almost 1.8 million pounds of chromium and chromium compounds in 2009, and each of these has at least one – if not, more than one – unlined coal ash disposal unit. Despite the obvious significance of this source of chromium, coal-fired power plants are rarely tagged as a source of hexavalent chromium.

As the Air Gets Cleaner, the Threat to Drinking Water Increases

EPA has found that as power plants reduce their emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOX) by employing pollution controls at the power plant stacks, more hexavalent chromium is found in the flue gas desulfurization (FGD) sludge.22 According to EPA, over half of the U.S. coal-fired capacity is projected to be equipped with SCR and/or FGD technology by 2020.23 In fact, EPA anticipates an increase of approximately 16% in scrubbed units by 2015.24 Thus as the Clean Air Act requires more and more plants to install pollution controls, we may experience a much greater threat to our drinking water from hexavalent chromium if disposal of the increased volume of FGD sludge is not properly controlled.

EPA Must Determine that Coal Ash is Hazardous

Although coal ash readily leaches hexavalent chromium, the waste is currently not federally regulated and is routinely dumped in unlined ponds and pits and used as construction fill without restriction. EPA must keep this dangerous chemical out of our water – by regulating coal ash as a hazardous waste, thereby requiring its disposal in safe, secure landfills.

In addition, EPA should immediately investigate the ponds, landfills and fill sites identified in this report to determine if public health is being threatened by exposure to hexavalent chromium, including:

 The three landfills identified in the DOE/EPRI report where Cr(VI) levels in leachate exceed proposed drinking water goals by thousands to hundreds of thousands of times (Table A);

 The 28 landfills, ponds and fill sites where groundwater has been contaminated with chromium over the current federal drinking water standard (Table B) and thousands of times over the proposed drinking water goal (Table B); and

 The disposal sites at the five plants where EPA’s laboratory tests document the potential for dangerous levels of Cr(VI) to leach from ash and sludge (Table C).

EPA must conduct these investigations to ensure that highly contaminated leachate from these coal ash disposal sites is not leaking into drinking water and threatening human health. However, it is important to understand that these sites do not represent the universe of coal ash sites that have contaminated groundwater with chromium. Most coal ash disposal sites in the U.S. is are not monitored sufficiently to determine whether they are contaminating groundwater, and certainly very few coal ash sites are monitored for hexavalent chromium at all. Ultimately only the regulation of coal ash under subtitle C of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act will ensure that these disposal sites, as well as every coal ash dump in the nation, are constructed securely and monitored sufficiently to keep hexavalent chromium out of our drinking water.

To access the tables, sources, and additional information click below.

EPA’s Blind Spot: Hexavalent Chromium in Coal Ash

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