Forty-Nine Coal Plants Acknowledge Groundwater Contamination
At least 49 power plants have acknowledged groundwater contamination at levels that exceed federal or state standards, according to data submitted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Water and obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request by the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP). At least 28 of those have come to light only recently, including five in West Virginia, three in Iowa, North Carolina, and Texas, and two each in Colorado and South Carolina (see analysis).
Plants reported exceeding federal or state groundwater standards for at least multiple pollutants that are subject to Safe Drinking Water Act or federal Health Advisory standards, including:
- Arsenic (a potent carcinogen) at no fewer than 22 plants
- Manganese (a metal that can damage the nervous system in high concentrations) at 22
- Boron (a pollutant that can cause damage to the stomach, intestines, liver, kidney and brain when ingested in large amounts) at 12
- Selenium (a toxic pollutant that causes adverse health effects at high exposures) at 13
- Cadmium (a toxic pollutant that can damage the kidneys, lungs, and bones) at 10
Standards for some of these pollutants were frequently exceeded at more than one disposal unit on the plant’s site, and at many ash ponds or landfills, the standards were exceeded for multiple pollutants. Specific data about actual concentration levels is not available, because it was not requested by EPA.
The information was originally requested by the EPA Office of Water to help the agency evaluate the potential toxicity of wastewater containing ash or scrubber sludge that may be discharged to rivers or lakes. Forty-two of the 91 coal-fired plants surveyed by EPA either did not respond, had no groundwater monitoring data, reported that available monitoring did not indicate that any standards had been exceeded, or claimed confidentiality. Plants responding to EPA’s survey may be measuring some, but not all, contaminants subject to health-based standards, and lack of uniform monitoring standards for coal ash disposal sites means that methods of detection and measurement vary from state to state.
EIP Director Eric Schaeffer said: “Some of these plants were under the radar, and had never been identified before by EPA or in our earlier reports on ash ponds and landfills. EPA’s Office of Solid Waste is still grinding away on proposed standards for coal ash disposal—more than three years after the TVA spill—but has somehow never found the time to require testing of the groundwater next to coal ash sites, or even to systematically collect the data that is already there. This “see no evil” approach leaves the public at risk, and makes it easier for polluters to duck responsibility for a growing problem.”
For more information, click here.
England's Somerset county can now boast its first beaver dam in more than 400 years.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Alex McInturff, Christine Wilkinson and Wenjing Xu
What is the most common form of human infrastructure in the world? It may well be the fence. Recent estimates suggest that the total length of all fencing around the globe is 10 times greater than the total length of roads. If our planet's fences were stretched end to end, they would likely bridge the distance from Earth to the Sun multiple times.
Early advertisement for barbed wire fencing, 1880-1889. The advent of barbed wire dramatically changed ranching and land use in the American West by ending the open range system. Kansas Historical Society / CC BY-ND
The authors assembled a conservative data set of potential fence lines across the U.S. West. They calculated the nearest distance to any given fence to be less than 31 miles (50 kilometers), with a mean of about 2 miles (3.1 kilometers). McInturff et al,. 2020 / CC BY-ND
- 'This Is Not Like a Fence in a Backyard' — Trump's Border Wall vs ... ›
- New Border Wall Construction Threatens 8 Species With Extinction ... ›
Climate change is making ancient Hopi farming nearly impossible, threatening not just the Tribe's staple food source, but a pillar of its culture and religion, the Arizona Republic reports.
- These Are the Challenges Facing India's Most Sacred River ... ›
- Oil Spill Causes 'Major Disaster' for Ganges River Dolphins ... ›
By Kenny Stancil
An expert panel of top international and environmental lawyers have begun working this month on a legal definition of "ecocide" with the goal of making mass ecological damage an enforceable international crime on par with war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.
- Are the Amazon Fires a Crime Against Humanity? - EcoWatch ›
- 'Her Work Will Live On': Climate Movement Mourns Loss of Ecocide ... ›