Energy

Proposed Coal Plants Would Create 18 Million Tons of Waste

| by NRDC

WASHINGTON --- 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.

The list:

Texas (rank #1, 8 proposed
plants, 4,093,087 tons of coal ash waste)
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)

West Virginia (#15, 3, 430,275)

(A complete list of states and national data can be found here: http://www.nrdc.org/energy/coalwaste.)

“Coal
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.”

Earlier
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.

NRDC – COAL WASTE – ADD ONE

The
“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.

“There
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.”

In
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
to: http://www.nrdc.org/energy/coalwaste.

POST YOUR COMMENTS BELOW