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EPA Agrees to Issue Coal Ash Regulations in 2014
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EPA Agrees to Issue Coal Ash Regulations in 2014

The Environmental Protection Agency, in a win for North Carolina environmental groups, has agreed to issue by December the federal government’s first rules on coal ash.

EPA Agrees to Issue Coal Ash Regulations in 2014

Riverbend Coal Ash Waste Lagoons on Mtn. Island Lake near Charlotte

By Bruce Henderson

 
 
 

The EPA held hearings on ash in Charlotte and other cities in 2010 but has not issued rules on its disposal. Boone-based Appalachian Voices, Asheville’s Western North Carolina Alliance and other groups filed lawsuits two years ago to force the EPA’s hand.

In a consent decree filed late Wednesday with the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., the EPA agreed to publish a notice of final action by Dec. 19.

“It’s absolutely historic that we’re finally going to have a resolution of this,” said Matt Wasson, Appalachian Voices’ program director. “This has been going on not just since the (Tennessee ash) spill in 2008, but well before that.”

A dike rupture at a Tennessee Valley Authority power plant spilled more than 1 billion gallons of ash slurry in 2008, covering 300 acres and flowing into two rivers. The incident brought national attention to coal ash, which contains metals that can be toxic in high doses.

North Carolina itself has drawn attention for lawsuits filed last year by the state, under pressure from environmental groups, against Duke Energy power plants that store ash in open ponds.

Groundwater is contaminated around each of those 14 ponds, although much of it may come from natural sources. Elements found in ash have also been found in Mountain Island Lake, Charlotte’s main water source, near Duke’s now-closed Riverbend power plant.

Duke agreed last year to pay for a water line to a neighborhood in the expected path of ash contamination in Wilmington. The state also ordered Duke to supply water to a home near Asheville where a well was apparently contaminated by coal ash.

 

The terms of the settlement can be found here.

 

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