EPA Announces Plan to Regulate Coal Ash: Agency’s proposal defers decision on whether to treat coal ash slurry as a hazardous waste

May 11, 2010 newsletter (PDF)

In the early morning of December 22, 2008, the problems of coal ash management burst on the political scene. The earthen wall of a coal ash pond collapsed at the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Kingston Power Plant. The catastrophe released a flood of 5.4 million cubic yards of coal slurry waste. The flood wiped out houses, filled the nearby Emory and Clinch Rivers, and covered nearly a one-half square mile of land up to 10 feet deep with sludge. The sludge contained a variety of toxic materials, including mercury, cadmium, arsenic, and other trace metals. Within weeks, the regulatory process swung into action. The U.S. Senate held hearings on January 8, 2009. In her confirmation testimony on January 14, EPA director-nominee Lisa Jackson promised early regulatory action to address coal ash disposal sites.