Saturday 20 April 2019

Coal Ash (32)

We had some important legislative wins for clean water in Maryland. But first let’s give a big shout out to the amazing win in Virginia on cleaning up a legacy of toxic coal ash stored on our river banks! Virginia Safe Disposal of Coal Ash - Great news in Virginia! On March 20, Governor Northam signed into law a bill (SB 1355) to safely dispose of 28 million tons of toxic coal ash Dominion Energy now has stored on the banks of the Potomac, James and Elizabeth Rivers. This bill sets a national precedent for how to safely remove a legacy of toxic coal ash stored along our waterways in our region and across the nation. Potomac Riverkeeper Dean Naujoks and James Riverkeeper Jamie Brunkow have worked for the past 5 years with local communities and legislators to fight Dominion's plan to cap-in-placecoal ash ponds that eventually leak into our waterways. This bill requires all legacy coal ash in the Commonwealth be recycled or safely landfilled within 15 years, rather than left in the current dangerous state of cap-in-place. Maryland Comprehensive Agriculture Reporting and Enforcement Bill (Del. Stewart – HB904 | Sen. Pinsky – SB546) This bill is arguably one of the most important agriculture bills that has gained traction in the Maryland General Assembly in the past decade. It will improve transparency and fairness in the State’s industrial agriculture permitting program, create penalties for violations of phosphorous pollution regulations, and improve the state’s overall agricultural enforcement efforts. It will prevent the state from waiving permit fees for…
New law requires excavation of all sites in Chesapeake Bay watershed Today, Virginia legislators passed a law in a bipartisan effort to safely dispose of toxic coal ash stored on the banks of rivers in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The legislation will require the complete excavation of the more than 28 million tons of coal ash Dominion currently stores at Chesterfield Power Station, Chesapeake Energy Center, Possum Point Power Station, and Bremo Power Station. “We applaud the efforts of the Potomac and James Riverkeepers who have worked for years in local communities and the courts, with other advocates, legislators and citizens, to find a common sense solution to a legacy of toxic coal ash stored on the banks of our rivers,” said Betsy Nicholas, Executive Director Waterkeepers Chesapeake. “It is critically important to have strong laws on the state level during this time when federal agencies are attempting to eliminate rules protecting our waterways from toxic coal ash and to rollback other Clean Water Act protections.” The new law will require Dominion to do the following: Excavate all of the coal ash at these four facilities, and either recycle the ash into products like cement and concrete, or place it in modern, lined landfills. At least a quarter of the coal ash must be recycled, and the construction of any new landfills will be subject to local zoning and permitting requirements; Develop a transportation plan with the affected localities where any coal ash needs to be moved offsite; and Prioritize the hiring…
In 2015, Waterkeepers Chesapeake joined more than a half-million comments from people supporting the safeguards that U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is now seeking to remove in its proposed rule. The 2015 coal ash regulations were imposed after lengthy negotiations with utilities, other industries and environmentalists. Relaxing those common sense, science-based rules now – even as utilities are in the process of reporting the extent of coal-ash contamination and devising plans to address it – would mean the lessons learned from the coal ash accidents in Tennessee and North Carolina are being ignored. The proposed rule (‘remand rule’) would once again put our water and public health at risk – with more than 1.5 million children living near coal ash storage sites and seventy percent of all coal ash impoundments disproportionately impacting low-income communities – this is a risk that the EPA should be unwilling to take. Background Coal-fired power plants in the United States burn more than 800 million tons of coal every year, producing more than 110 million tons of solid waste in the form of fly ash, bottom ash, scrubber sludge and boiler slag—commonly known as coal ash. Hazardous chemicals present in coal are concentrated in the ash when coal is burned. Consequently, coal ash contains a toxic brew of carcinogens, neurotoxins, and poisons—including arsenic, boron, cadmium, hexavalent chromium, lead, lithium, mercury, molybdenum, selenium, thallium, and radioactive substances. These toxics raise the risk for cancer, heart disease, and stroke, and can inflict permanent brain damage on children.…