Categorize Hazardous Coal Ash as Toxic Waste

coal ash

Target: Gina McCarthy, Administrator of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Goal: Categorize coal ash as toxic waste so that sufficient cleanup and prevention measures will be enforced

The state of North Carolina may now have the opportunity to enjoy clean rivers and safe drinking water. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently agreed to issue the federal government’s first official rules on coal ash by December 19, 2014. This is great news for local environmental groups and residents because there have yet to be any regulations on coal ash disposal.

Coal ash contains metals that are toxic in high doses. The hazards related to coal ash gained attention in 2008 after a Tennessee Valley Authority power plant dike rupture spilled over a billion gallons of coal ash onto 300 acres of land and into two rivers. More recently, North Carolina groups, including Appalachian Voices and Western North Carolina Alliance, filed lawsuits against Duke Energy power plants that store coal ash in open ponds. The groundwater is contaminated in each of those coal ash ponds.

Sign the below petition to urge the EPA to deem coal ash to be a hazardous waste. With this designation, states and the EPA would gain authority over coal ash disposal and effectively ban disposal of ash in open ponds. Coal ash landfills must have new protective liners and be regularly monitored to detect contamination in groundwater sources, and if the EPA names coal ash as a type of hazardous waste, these protections will be put in place.


Dear Ms. McCarthy,

Thank you and your colleagues for agreeing to make a national ruling on coal ash waste before the end of 2014. The state of North Carolina is of particular concern because of the amount of coal ash waste contaminating groundwater in the state.

Duke Energy has contaminated at least 14 ponds of groundwater with coal ash waste. Other power plants, like the Tennessee Valley Authority, have had dikes rupture and over a billion gallons of ash have spilled onto neighboring lands and waterways. This cannot continue to happen.

I am urging you to categorize coal ash as hazardous waste because of its toxic effect upon the environment and human health. Coal ash contains metals that are toxic in high doses. If power plants are allowed to dispose of coal ash in large pools, these high doses will inevitably seep into drinking water sources and contaminate water supplies.

Utility companies want you to vote in favor of a plan that would retrofit and phase out ash ponds over the next five years. However, this is not good enough. The threat of coal is here, now, and immediate. I look forward to your decision on the coal ash issue in the months ahead, and I hope that you decide to name it a hazardous waste.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Brian Stansberry via WikiMedia Commons

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384 Signatures

  • Alice Rim
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