SOURCE: Inside Climate News

DATE: February 7, 2018

SNIP: Toxic substances including arsenic may be leaking from unlined pits and contaminating groundwater at hundreds of coal ash storage facilities nationwide, according to an analysis by the environmental law organization Earthjustice.

The analysis, an initial review of recently released data from 14 power plants in eight states, comes as the Environmental Protection Agency is weighing whether to revise recently enacted groundwater monitoring rules at coal ash storage facilities.

Nine of the 14 power plants noted “statistically significant increases” of toxic substances in groundwater near coal ash containment ponds, Earthjustice found.

The ponds store coal ash, the ash left after a power plant burns coal. Under a 2015 rule governing coal ash disposal, utility companies were required to complete initial monitoring of groundwater near such sites by Jan. 31, 2018, and they are required to make their data publicly available by March 2. Earthjustice reviewed the reports of the first 14 power plants to post their data. About 1,400 such sites exist nationwide, according to Earthjustice.

Last year, USWAG petitioned the EPA to weaken monitoring and remediation requirements in the coal ash rule. The May 2017 written request described the 2015 rule as “burdensome, inflexible, and often impracticable.” In September, the EPA announced it would reconsider certain provisions of the coal ash rule.