What You Need to Know About Coal Ash
If clean water is important to you and your family, you need to know about a silent danger to our waterways and public health.
Coal ash, the waste left over after coal is burned to generate power, contains concentrated amounts of heavy metals, such as lead, mercury, arsenic, chromium, and selenium, which are hazardous to human health, and to wildlife.
Despite this danger, coal ash is subject to less stringent rules than everyday household garbage! Coal ash, mixed with water to form a toxic slurry, is stored in huge impoundments, commonly called “coal ash ponds” or “lagoons”, which often have no liners to prevent heavy metals from getting into drinking water.
The Southeast is home to 40% of the nation’s coal ash impoundments, and according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), contains 21 of the nation’s 45 high hazard dams. Nearly 450 impoundments across the region contain 118 billion gallons of toxic waste – that’s enough coal ash to cover 275,000 football fields one foot deep!
These impoundments are mostly sited near major waterways, including on drinking water reservoirs, threatening the water we rely on for drinking, agriculture, fishing and recreation.
To learn more about coal ash, watch this video (on right) and read more in our About Coal Ash section.
To find coal ash impoundments near you, look on the map above, or search through the “Table of Power Plants” in the neighboring tabs.
Vice News’ Toxic Waste in the US: Coal Ash