For Immediate Release
Louisville Residents on New EPA Coal Ash Protections
Community members say rule doesn’t go far enough
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced the first-ever federal coal ash rules aimed at protecting thousands of communities from the 140 million tons of ash pollution produced annually by America’s coal plants. Coal ash, the toxic by-product that is left over after coal is burned, contains toxic heavy metals such as arsenic, lead, selenium and other health threatening substances. The public health hazards and environmental threats to nearby communities from unsafe coal ash storage have been documented for decades, including increased risk of cancer, learning disabilities, neurological disorders, birth defects, asthma, and other illnesses.
For years in Louisville communities, residents near the Cane Run coal plant organized against the toxic coal ash blowing into their communities, and others near the Mill Creek plant have spoken out against the coal ash wastewater being continuously dumped into the Ohio River. Across the country, environmental and public health organizations have also called on the EPA and the Obama Administration to impose common-sense protections for retired and still operating coal ash sites that treat its disposal with the same level of scrutiny as other dangerous materials.
Until now, coal ash disposal has been subject to zero oversight. The new rules categorize coal ash as solid waste -- not hazardous waste, which means it does not require the same disposal practices mandated for other, equally hazardous materials.
In response to the rules, Louisville-area residents Kathy Little, Mark Romines and Wallace McMullen, issued the following statement, with support from the Sierra Club:
“For decades, coal ash has been dumped in our water and blown in our communities, without state or federal oversight. While the EPA and the Obama Administration have taken an important first step by introducing this first ever, long-overdue rule to help protect our homes from the toxic by-product of our dirtiest energy source, the standard does not go far enough to protect our families from coal ash pollution.
“Specifically, we are disappointed that toxic coal ash has not been classified as hazardous waste and that the state of Kentucky will follow its 'business as usual' approach by not adequately protecting communities from coal ash. However, we do applaud the EPA in putting forward the ability to take corporations to federal court when they refuse to clean up toxic coal ash. We will continue to push the EPA and the state of Kentucky to make sure coal ash is properly disposed of and monitored, for the sake of our health.”
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The Sierra Club is the oldest and largest grassroots environmental organization in the United States. It was founded on May 28, 1892 in San Francisco, California by the well-known conservationist and preservationist John Muir, who became its first president. The Sierra Club has hundreds of thousands of members in chapters located throughout the US, and is affiliated with Sierra Club Canada.