New EPA Coal Ash Rule Reduces Environmental Protections

(ANNAPOLIS, MD)—The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued final rules governing the handling and monitoring of hazardous coal ash. The waste, produced when coal is burned, can pose significant threats to groundwater and water quality in rivers and streams. Following the announcement, Lisa Feldt, Chesapeake Bay Foundation Vice President for Environmental Protection and Restoration, issued this statement.

"With this rule EPA continues its pattern of rolling back environmental protections. There are many documented cases where groundwater has been contaminated by coal ash storage facilities, damaging waterways and potentially drinking water.

"Unfortunately, numerous coal ash impoundments are located within the Chesapeake Bay watershed. In Virginia, groundwater monitoring at four facilities, Bremo Power Station, Possum Point Power Station, Chesapeake Energy Center, and Chesterfield Power Station, have found combinations of radium, arsenic, lithium, and mercury, in many instances exceeding allowable levels.

"Just as troubling, the new rules reduce requirements for monitoring groundwater, a key pathway for hazardous chemicals to enter rivers where we fish, swim, and play. This is a steep price to pay for 'flexibility,' EPA's stated justification."

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