Posted by: Lawyer Sanders | March 2, 2010

Kentucky environmental attorney Sanders says regulatory agencies don’t want to know about groundwater quality around fly ash ponds in the Commonwealth.

While Kentucky uses coal to generate +92% of its electricity needs, no one in Frankfort or Atlanta has looked at finding or regulating groundwater pollution migrating from coal ash ponds.  Certainly, no one is looking at heavy metals, such as arsenic, selenium and cadmium, floating out of the bottom of these enormous waste ponds.

Kentucky’s Division of Water and Division of Waste simply do not want to open up this Pandora’s box of forcing utility plants to clean up groundwater contamination migrating out of these huge unlined waste ponds. There is no requirement for utility plants to monitor groundwater around fly ash ponds in Kentucky.

Indeed, the quasi official motto at EPA and the Environmental Protection Cabinet in Frankfort seems to be “don’t test groundwater around ash ponds, and for God’s sake if you do test don’t tell anyone the results of heavy metals coming out of these ponds.”  Metals, of course, never go away and bioaccumulate in humans. 

In 2007 US EPA acknowledged 67 proven and likely environmental damage cases across the U.S. related to coal combustion waste, and since then the agency has acknowledged four more cases.

Now, in 2010, Earthjustice and the Environmental Integrity Project has identified 31 additional sites where groundwater is polluted by migration of coal ash wastes at power plants.  The report is entitled “Out of Control: Mounting Damages From Coal Ash Waste Sites.”

North Carolina has six, tying with Pennsylvania for the state with the most sites in the report. The other states where new damage cases were found are Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, South Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia, with a majority of them in the South.

At 15 of the 31 sites, arsenic and other toxic contaminants have already moved off the dump-site property at levels harmful to human health — and 25 of the problem dumps are still actively taking coal ash. 

No one knows what is going on in Kentucky, but it’s happening.  Silent but sure.  Because coal ash ponds are located next to major rivers in Kentucky, both the state and federal agencies are is seemingly counting on the rivers being the savior, as in dilution is the solution to fly ash pollution.  Of course, up here in Northern Kentucky we use the Ohio River for our primary drinking water source.

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