Debate Intensifying Over Whether To Regulate Coal Ash
By Ben Hall Investigative Reporter
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The debate over whether to regulate coal ash as a hazardous material is intensifying. A Washington D.C. based environmental group has released a report calling 31 coal ash sites across the country "a clear and present danger to public health."
The report, titled Out of Control, is from the Environmental Integrity Project. It encourages the EPA to put strict regulations on how coal ash is disposed. The report claims the 31 sites are just "the tip of the ice berg," and that numerous coal ash sites leak poisons into streams and rivers throughout the United States. Out of Control: Mounting Damages From Coal Ash Waste Sites
The EPA is supposed to make a final ruling on whether coal ash is a hazardous material in the coming weeks.
Many utilities said regulating coal ash as a hazardous material is an overreaction to the TVA ash spill.
Utilities said increased regulation will add to the cost of disposing of coal ash and lead to higher utility bills.
TVA's general manager of Coal Combustion Product, Alan Casaday, told NewsChannel 5 in December that TVA sells coal ash for use in materials we see every day.
"We market this a lot. We use it in cinderblocks, wall board for our gypsum products. It's a usable product," said Casaday.
He said coal ash is not hazardous.
Two of the 31 sites listed in the Environmental Integrity Project's report are in Tennessee.
One site is a landfill in Benton County that takes coal ash from TVA's New Johnsonville Plant. The other site is at TVA's John Sevier Plant in East Tennessee. It claims the ground water around the plant has been damaged.