Risky Business

The Environmental Integrity Project has been collecting evidence of groundwater contamination near coal ash ponds and landfills for several years, and the more we look, the more we find. After EPA documented 67 proven or potential ‘damage cases’ in 2007, we found groundwater or surface water contamination at 70 additional sites, and submitted our analysis to EPA in two reports released in February and August of 2010.

In this report, we identify an additional 19 sites where coal combustion waste appears to have contaminated groundwater with arsenic or other pollutants at levels above primary Safe Drinking Water Act Maximum Contaminant Limits (MCL) for pollutants like arsenic. All but two have also measured concentrations of other pollutants – such as boron, molybdenum, and manganese – above the limits EPA has recommended in Health Advisories for children or adults. In addition, our report includes new information about 7 previously recognized damage cases, including stunning evidence of groundwater more toxic than hazardous waste leachate. Finally, we have identified soil contamination at an Indiana site where coal ash was used to fill in a rail bed. These structural fills account for most “recycling” of coal combustion waste, and are largely unregulated.