April 21, 2010
The numbers are staggering. Coal-fired power plants generate roughly 140 million tons of combustion waste a year, making it the second largest industrial waste stream in the country. Coal waste and humans don’t mix; fly ash can burn the skin on contact. It contains toxic metals including arsenic, lead, and selenium. The TVA Kingston disaster became a poster child for the hazards of coal sludge. But scientists say there are potentially hundreds of smaller coal ash impoundments across the country leaking these contaminants into soil and drinking water. Scientists, activists and citizens living near ash disposal sites eagerly await federal regulations that will protect them from this toxic ash.