FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 29, 2009
In Reversal, EPA Names List of 44 "High Hazard" Coal Ash Sites
Washington, D.C.--The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today released information regarding the locations of 44 "high hazard potential" coal combustion waste facilities (or coal ash impoundments), previously kept a secret from the public. On June 19, 2009, Sierra Club and its allies filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to force EPA to make these sites known to the public.
Coal ash impoundments were placed on the list based on the potential for harm to surrounding communities in the event of an accident, but at the request of the Department of Homeland Security and the Army Corps of Engineers, EPA previously refused to release the information.
The "high hazard potential" sites listed by EPA are all located near coal-fired electric power plants concentrated in 11 states; with more than 6 sites located in Ohio, Kentucky, North Carolina and Arizona. Topping the list with 11 sites electric utility giant American Electric Power, followed closely by Duke Energy and Arizona Electric Power Cooperative.
Statement of Bruce Nilles, Director of Sierra Club's Beyond Coal Campaign
"Today's announcement marks a critical step in protecting citizens who have been living in the shadow of dangerous coal ash sites for far too long. These communities have not been informed that they live downstream of large poorly regulated toxic coal ash impoundments containing millions of gallon of toxic sludge, like the Tennessee Valley Authority's 1-billion gallon toxic impoundment that failed tragically in Kingston, Tennessee last December.
"Now that EPA has compiled this list of 'high hazard potential' sites, the next step is to clean these sites up expeditiously, so that they no longer present a hazard to downstream communities. At the same time, EPA must move forward to close the regulatory loopholes that the coal industry has enjoyed for far too long. It is time to require the coal industry to treat coal ash as the hazardous waste that it is.
"This announcement also underscores the need to move beyond the dirty energy sources of the past. It's time to get America running on clean energy. Instead of the toxic legacy of America's dirty energy past, the clean energy future promises millions of new jobs, healthier communities, and a safer climate for future generations."
For more information and a link to Sierra Club's Freedom of Information Act request, please visit:
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