EPA Can't Disclose Location of Coal Ash Sites

Since the devastating December 22 <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/Tennessee_Fly_Ash_Spill">Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) fly ash spill

that dumped a massive 5.4 million cubic yards—over one billion gallons—of coal sludge into Tennessee’s Emory and Clinch rivers and the 300 acres surrounding its Kingston plant, attention has been focused on the health hazards of coal ash facilities.

According to the Environment News Service, there are 44 coal combustion waste sites nationwide that have been identified as a “high hazard” by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Interestingly, according to Senator Barbara Boxer, the EPA cannot disclose the location of these hazardous sites, reports the Environmental News Service. Senator Boxer is the chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, which oversees the EPA.

Since the spill, the EPA inspected coal combustion sites nationwide, including 44 found to pose a “high hazard,” said the Environmental News Service, explaining that if these coal ash ponds fail, they would pose a threat to nearby residents. Senator Boxer said, “The EPA, after consulting with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Department of Homeland Security, has indicated that they cannot make the list of ‘high hazard’ sites public. If these sites are so hazardous and if the neighborhoods nearby could be harmed irreparably, then I believe it is essential to let people know. In that way, they can press their local authorities who have responsibility for their safety to act now to make the sites safer,” quoted the Environmental News Service.

Senator Boxer added, “There is a huge muzzle on me and on my staff, and the only people I can tell about this are the senators whose states are impacted. We cannot talk to any of their staffs. This is unacceptable. The committee is going to continue hearings into this matter,” reported the Environmental News Service.

We reported last month that information pointing to “significantly higher cancer risks” for those living near coal-fired power plant ash dumps was covered up by the recent Bush Administration citing a report by EnvironmentalIntegrity.org. Apparently, the 2002 EPA Risk Screening Report was only finally released in 2009 after Barack Obama and his administration took office, said Environmental Integrity.

That report found that about three-dozen states were cited, 21 with no less that what it deemed to be five high-risk sites. That complete list can be found at: http://www.environmentalintegrity.org, said Environmental Integrity, which accused the Bush Administration of dragging its feet for over five years on a “partial release” of EPA data that points to a very high risk of cancer for an alarming one out of every 50 Americans who live near ash and sludge dumps.

There are over 200 landfills and wet ponds, said Environmental Integrity previously, that contained disposed “ash and scrubber sludge” which comes from coal-fired power plants in this country, based on the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP) and Earthjustice. About 100 million tons of “toxic fly ash, bottom, ash, and scrubber sludge” are dumped into landfills and wet ponds, said Environmental Integrity, which accused the EPA—during the Bush Administration—of making “a concerted effort to delay the release of the information about cancer, noncancer, and general environmental risks,” noting that the full report was only released after the Bush Administration exited and following significant delays and Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) pressure, said Environmental Integrity.

EIP and Earthjustice believe the Bush Administration was trying to hide information on 100 landfills and 110 surface impoundments that were examined by the EPA and that do not contain appropriate synthetic liners to prevent leaks, posing significantly serious human health and ecosystems risks.

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