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Conservation Groups Challenge NC Environmental Agency’s Sweetheart Settlement with Duke Energy over Widespread Coal Ash Contamination

Press Release from the Southern Environmental Law Center

Contact: D.J. Gerken, SELC, 828-258-2023 or Frank Holleman, SELC, 864-979-9431 or

CHAPEL HILL, N.C.—In a legal challenge filed today, conservation groups across North Carolina asked the state Superior Court to overturn approval of a settlement between Duke Energy and the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality over the utility’s coal ash pollution throughout the state. Duke had appealed a monetary penalty at a single site, but the state’s settlement agreement abandons enforcement of groundwater pollution laws at every one of Duke Energy’s fourteen leaking coal ash sites where lawsuits are pending and even provides immunity for future violations.

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Coal Ash’s Unhealthy Glow – Lisa Evans/Earthjustice

DAVID OLAH/ISTOCK PHOTO. Scientists have found that coal ash has up to 10 times more naturally occurring radioactive materials than the parent coal it comes from.

by Lisa Evans, Sr. Administrative Counsel, Earthjustice

Burning coal for energy leaves behind toxic coal ash waste, and that waste may be even more harmful than researchers suspected. In a paper published today inEnvironmental Science and Technology, scientists and engineers from Duke University and the University of Kentucky found coal ash has up to 10 times more naturally occurring radioactive materials than the parent coal it comes from. Coal ash also has up to five times more radioactivity than average soil in the U.S.

Particularly alarming are the study findings that radioactivity may exceed safe levels for human exposure if coal ash is not isolated from water and kept from blowing away in the wind. The consequences of long-term exposure to radioactivity are dire—including life-threatening diseases such as lymphoma, bone cancer, leukemia and aplastic anemia. Cancer-causing radium in ash can remain in the lungs for months after inhalation, gradually entering the bloodstream and depositing in bones and teeth for the lifetime of the individual.

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EPA’s Huge Water Pollution Decision and Why They Need to Get it Right

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has an enormously impactful decision to make. By the end of September 2015, EPA is set to update its 30-year-old guidelines for how much pollution states can permit power plants to dump into our water, called effluent limitation guidelines or the ELG rule. EPA could issue a weak, ineffective rule or a powerful rule that could be a major turning point for public health and water quality. Please urge the Obama Administration and EPA to issue a strong ELG rule!

Several options for regulating these toxic discharges have been proposed by EPA and are currently under consideration by the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB). SACE brought a delegation of water advocates from the Southeast to meet with OMB staff last week.

The problem
Every day, power plants across the country are using our public waters like an open sewer. Power plants dump 5.5 billion pounds of contaminated wastewater directly into our rivers, lakes, and bays every single year. They discharge more toxic waste than the next nine most polluting industries combined and create 50% of all toxic pollution dumped into our waterways. 40% of this pollution is within five miles of public drinking water supply intakes. more »

Buenos Dias, D.C. — Una Introducción a los Peligros de las Cenizas de Carbón (an Introduction to the Dangers of Coal Ash)

Este estanque de cenizas de carbón en la instalación de Cape Fear de Duke Energy ha funcionado como deposito de cenizas y toxinas desde 1985

Este artículo fue publicado originalmente por Earthjustice. Betsy López-Wagner es secretaria de prensa bilingüe en Earthjustice. Trabaja en la oficina en San Francisco, California. Es periodista y consumada experta de comunicaciones, Betsy tiene una  amplia experiencia en medios de comunicación, tanto en inglés como en español.

Mira el video aquí

Las cenizas tóxicas de carbón son un problema a nivel nacional y son responsables en gran medida de la contaminación del agua potable y del aire, constituyendo en general una amenaza para la salud pública. El 28 de julio, Andrea Delgado, representante legislativa de Earthjustice, fue invitada a “Buenos Días, D.C.”, un programa de Univisión en Washington, D.C., para hablar con Néstor Bravo y explicar que son las cenizas de carbón, que industrias las producen, por qué necesitamos normas para proteger a las comunidades y la oposición que tales normas enfrentan en el Congreso. Casi el 70 por ciento de estas represas de cenizas se encuentran en comunidades habitadas por comunidades minoritarias y de bajos ingresos. Mira el video aquí.

South Carolina Utilities Remove over 1 Million Tons of Coal Ash


Press Release from the Southern Environmental Law Center

For Release: July 22, 2015
Contacts: Kathleen Sullivan, SELC, 919-945-7106 or

CHAPEL HILL, N.C.–As of July 2015, South Carolina utilities have removed over 1 million tons of coal ash from two sites covered by settlement agreements obtained by local conservation groups.

At the Wateree Plant on the Catawba-Wateree River near Columbia, South Carolina, SCE&G has now removed over 723,000 tons of coal ash from riverside lagoons. The removal is required under a 2012 settlement agreement reached with SCE&G to resolve litigation brought by the Southern Environmental Law Center on behalf of the Catawba Riverkeeper.

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