Out of Control

Coal-fired power plants generate nearly 140 million tons of fly ash, scrubber sludge, and other combustion wastes every year. At 15 of the 31 sites, contamination has already migrated off the power plant property (off-site) at levels that exceed drinking water or surface water quality standards. The remaining 16 show evidence of severe on-site pollution. Because off-site monitoring data at 14 of these 16 sites were not available, damage may be more severe and widespread than indicated in this report. These wastes contain some of the earth’s most deadly pollutants, including arsenic, cadmium, lead, selenium, and other toxic metals that can cause cancer and neurological harm in humans and poison fish. This report brings to light 31 coal combustion waste sites that are known to have contaminated groundwater, wetlands, creeks, or rivers in 14 states: Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. The data presented in the attached report were compiled from monitoring data and other information in the files of state agencies.