Protect Our Health from Toxic Coal Ash


Target: Gina McCarthy, EPA Administrator

Goal: Stop poisonous coal ash from polluting our communities

Coal ash is a hazardous byproduct of energy production in coal-fired power plants that has until now faced no definite regulations. On Dec 19th, the EPA labelled coal ash a non-hazardous waste product and announced that it intends to treat coal ash like household garbage. We demand that the EPA redefine coal ash as a hazardous substance.

Vast quantities of coal ash have been accumulated near coal-fired power plants, and is surpassed in quantity only by household garbage. About 40% of it is recycled and industry representatives argue that a stricter classification might hinder such efforts. However, the hazardous classification is sought by environmentalists so that the containment and disposal of coal ash can be as isolated from communities as possible.

A coal ash pond was breached recently and spilled chemicals like lead, arsenic, mercury, and radioactive uranium into North Carolina’s Dan River. These toxins and other heavy metals in coal ash pose serious health risks for humans such as cancer, neurological effects, heart damage, lung disease, kidney disease, reproductive problems, gastrointestinal illness, birth defects, and more.

We urge stricter regulations on this ubiquitous waste product such as more adequately lined ponds and wind protection for dry piles, more frequent monitoring for leaks and structural flaws, more accountability for leaks and spills, and adequate compensation for nearby communities. By signing the petition below, we can persuade the EPA administrator Gina McCarthy to redraft their current coal ash regulations in a more thorough and honest way.


Dear Mrs. McCarthy,

I applaud the EPA’s long-awaited assessment of coal ash containment and the unveiling of rules that will increase monitoring of leaks and the control of windblown dust. I also commend the closure of structurally flawed waste sites and the continued strategy to phase out coal as an energy source.

However, I am concerned that the new rules are not strong enough to protect families situated near coal ash sites. The decision to define coal ash as non-hazardous and to treat it similarly to household garbage disregards the toxicity of its components.

Coal ash is known to contain lead, arsenic, mercury, and many other toxic heavy metals which cause a long list of negative health impacts of which I’m sure you are aware of. The decision to classify it as non-hazardous is a detrimental decision made at the cost of adverse human health effects.

I demand that you reclassify coal ash as a hazardous material so Americans can be sufficiently protected.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: WikiMedia Commons

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101 Signatures

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