Quantcast

Forty-Nine Coal Plants Acknowledge Groundwater Contamination

Energy

Environmental Integrity Project

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.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Pixabay

By Claire L. Jarvis

A ruckus over biofuels has been brewing in Iowa.

Read More Show Less
Serena and Venus Williams have been known to follow a vegan diet. Edwin Martinez / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

By Whitney E. Akers

  • "The Game Changers" is a new documentary on Netflix that posits a vegan diet can improve athletic performance in professional athletes.

  • Limited studies available show that the type of diet — plant-based or omnivorous — doesn't give you an athletic advantage.

  • We talked to experts about what diet is the best for athletic performance.

Packed with record-setting athletes displaying cut physiques and explosive power, "The Game Changers," a new documentary on Netflix, has a clear message: Vegan is best.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
An illegally trafficked tiger skull and pelt. Ryan Moehring / USFWS

By John R. Platt

When it comes to solving problems related to wildlife trade, there are an awful lot of "sticky widgets."

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Franziska Spritzler, RD, CDE

Inflammation can be both good and bad.

On one hand, it helps your body defend itself from infection and injury. On the other hand, chronic inflammation can lead to weight gain and disease.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Dan Nosowitz

It's no secret that the past few years have been disastrous for the American farming industry.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Pexels

By Gavin Van De Walle, MS, RD

Medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil and coconut oil are fats that have risen in popularity alongside the ketogenic, or keto, diet.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Bijal Trivedi

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report on Nov. 13 that describes a list of microorganisms that have become resistant to antibiotics and pose a serious threat to public health. Each year these so-called superbugs cause more than 2.8 million infections in the U.S. and kill more than 35,000 people.

Read More Show Less
Rool Paap / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

By Franziska Spritzler, RD, CDE

Inflammation can be good or bad depending on the situation.

Read More Show Less