Groups Slam Weak Coal Ash Protections

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WASHINGTON, Aug. 17 (UPI) — Environmental groups say a study shows U.S. regulations are inadequate to protect public health and drinking water, near on coal ash disposal sites.

Earthjustice and Appalachian Mountain Advocates released the study Wednesday, a review of regulations in 37 states which together are responsible for almost 98 percent of all coal ash generated nationally.

The study identified 12 states the groups say are worst when it comes to coal ash management and disposal — Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.

A separate report by the Prairie Rivers Network and Environmental Integrity Project focused on Illinois.

Illinois ranks first in the number of coal ash ponds with 83 — 68 operating coal ash dams and 15 retired ponds that still pose a danger — the report said.

“Illinois has the dubious distinction of landing on the top 12 list of states with the weakest coal ash regulations,” Traci Barkley of the Prairie Rivers Network said. “Illinois citizens who live below the poverty line face the biggest threat because they reside closest to these toxic sites. Our state must do better than this.”

A 2010 assessment by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found 10 power plants with active ponds having “high” to “very high” potential to contaminate a drinking water source, the report said.

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