The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Michael Oko, Tel. (202) 513-6245 or (202) 904-5245

New Coal Plants Would Create Nearly 18 Million Tons of Waste Annually

New Analysis Ranks 'Filthy 15' States by Coal Ash Produced by Proposed Plants


Proposed coal plants across the United States would produce nearly
18 million tons of dangerous waste, including toxic metals, each year.
Nearly 130 million tons of coal waste from existing plants is being
produced annually, most of which is disposed of in largely unregulated
landfills, ponds and other locations, posing serious public health and
environmental risks.

According to a new analysis by the
Natural Resources Defense Council, the 15 states that would be the
biggest polluters -- the "Filthy 15" -- have proposals for 54 coal
plants and would create nearly 14 million tons of dangerous waste.

list is topped by Texas (rank #1, 8 proposed plants, 4,093,087 tons of
coal ash waste); followed by: South Dakota (#2, 2, 952,630); Florida
(#3, 3, 911,118); Nevada (#4, 3, 888,272); Montana (#5, 3, 848,278);
Illinois (#6, 4; 797,450); South Carolina (#7, 2, 731,110); Ohio (#8,
3, 711,616); Wyoming (#9, 5, 697,850); Michigan (#10, 5, 686,897);
Kentucky (#11, 4, 593,662); Missouri (#12, 4, 515,709); Wisconsin (#13,
3, 507,952); Georgia (#14, 2; 445,202); and West Virginia (#15, 3,

(A complete list of states and national data can be found here:

waste poses a large and unnecessary risk to people's health and the
environment, and we need to act before another Kingston disaster
strikes," said Peter Lehner, executive director of NRDC, "The EPA took
a big step forward this week by announcing it will regulate coal ash,
but they need to quickly examine how coal waste is handled and ensure
proper management and disposal are in place at all new plants."

this week, EPA announced that it would begin to regulate coal ash, a
shift in position after years of delay. Many states currently allow
dangerous coal waste to be dumped, without proper oversight, into
poorly constructed landfills, ponds and even old mines. These storage
facilities risk having coal waste seep into ground water or breaking,
like the Kingston, Tennessee, disaster that unleashed 1 billion gallons
of coal ash last December.

The EPA conducted an
assessment in 2007 that showed that certain types of ash disposal sites
pose a cancer risk nearly 1,000 times the acceptable level. EPA also
identified 24 sites in 13 states that are known or suspected to be
contaminated by coal ash, but has not been regulating coal ash
disposal, instead allowing states to set their own regulations, which
are typically weak.

According to the new NRDC analysis,
proposed coal plants would also produce more than 18,000 tons annually
of toxic metals -- like arsenic, mercury, lead, and other toxic
substances. The toxic metals that are often found in coal waste can
pose serious health risks to people - especially children -- including
cancer, birth defects, reproductive problems, damage to the nervous
system and kidneys, and learning disabilities.


"Filthy 15" states with proposed plants that would produce largest
amount of toxic materials is led by Texas; and includes: South Dakota,
Florida, Ohio, Illinois, Nevada, Montana, South Carolina, Kentucky,
Wyoming, Michigan, Wisconsin, Missouri, West Virginia and Georgia.

are cleaner, safer and more sustainable energy choices available," said
Lehner. "America should be moving toward energy efficiency and
renewable energy sources that will drive our economic recovery and meet
the challenges of the 21st Century."

conjunction with the new analysis, NRDC has released a new Web site
that includes a state-by-state breakdown of the total amount annually
of waste, including toxic metals, from existing and proposed plants. Go

NRDC works to safeguard the earth--its people, its plants and animals, and the natural systems on which all life depends. We combine the power of more than three million members and online activists with the expertise of some 700 scientists, lawyers, and policy advocates across the globe to ensure the rights of all people to the air, the water, and the wild.

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