The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Raviya Ismail, (202) 667-4500, ext. 237

US Senate: EPA Must Immediately Regulate Coal Ash Disposal


The following statement is from Ben Dunham, associate legislative
counsel at Earthjustice on yesterday's Senate Resolution (S. Res. 64)
by Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Thomas Carper (D-DE) calling upon the
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to finally regulate coal ash waste
disposal and storage. The resolution requests the "earliest date
possible" for regulations.

"Senators Boxer and Carper recognized shortly after the tragic
coal ash disaster in Tennessee, that the EPA needs to act immediately
and regulate coal ash disposal. We are encouraged by yesterday's
announcement and hope that Congress and the Obama administration will
continue to move quickly and protect millions of Americans living near
these sites.

"Just three days before Christmas, approximately 1 billion gallons
of wet coal ash sludge burst through an ash dam at the Tennessee Valley
Authority site in Harriman, Tennessee, flooding over 300 acres with
toxic levels of arsenic, lead, mercury, selenium, and boron. This
tragic event was a wake-up call for federal regulators who have avoided
regulating similar coal ash disposal sites all across the country to
act now.

"This Senate resolution moves us one step closer to an ultimate goal
of strong protections and safeguards to prevent more disasters such as
the TVA spill. The resolution properly emphasizes that EPA must move
immediately to inspect and record all coal ash waste sites, as well as
establish the long-needed safeguards. Administrator Lisa Jackson should
begin drafting regulations that guarantee safety and security for
communities living near these sites. The resolution recognizes the
greater danger posed by wet storage of ash, and EPA's regulations
should phase-out this antiquated process to encourage dry disposal in
lined and monitored landfills or safe recycling of coal ash.

"Communities in Tennessee deserve to know that there will never be
another TVA disaster. We applaud the Senate for their leadership and
are hopeful that the Obama administration and the EPA will continue to
follow their lead."

Earthjustice is a non-profit public interest law firm dedicated to protecting the magnificent places, natural resources, and wildlife of this earth, and to defending the right of all people to a healthy environment. We bring about far-reaching change by enforcing and strengthening environmental laws on behalf of hundreds of organizations, coalitions and communities.