Coal’s Poisonous Legacy

An examination of industry data available for the first time concludes that 91 percent of U.S. coal-fired power plants with monitoring data are contaminating groundwater with unsafe levels of toxic pollutants.

The study by the Environmental Integrity Project, with assistance from Earthjustice, used data that became available to the public for the first time in 2018 because of requirements in federal coal ash regulations issued in 2015.

The report found that found that the groundwater near 242 of the 265 power plants with monitoring data contained unsafe levels of one or more of the pollutants in coal ash, including arsenic, a known carcinogen, and lithium, which is associated with neurological damage, among other pollutants.

(Photo credit: J Henry Fair/SouthWings)