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States or EPA? Congress Considers Regulations For Coal Ash

October 24, 2011

INDIANAPOLIS - Just over a week ago, the U.S. House voted to allow regulation of coal ash disposal by states, rather than by the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), with its more stringent guidelines for storage and clean-up that many environmental groups would prefer.

Tim Maloney, senior policy director with the Hoosier Environmental Council, says it hasn't worked in his state.

"Indiana is a prime example of that failure of state oversight, given that we have so many of these virtually-unregulated surface ponds or impoundments where the ash is mixed with water."

Maloney says that, without strict federal coal ash disposal requirements, Indiana's water supply is at risk.

"Arsenic and selenium and chromium: very hazardous metals and other chemicals that are readily leached out of this waste when it comes into contact with water."

He says the Porter County town of Pines in northern Indiana is contaminated by coal ash from power company NIPSCO and is an example of why federal oversight of coal ash is needed.

"The whole town is now designated a Superfund site because of the coal ash that was disposed of in a nearby landfill and also dumped as road surfacing throughout the town."

People in Pines with unusual health problems point to coal-ash-contaminated wells as the source of their problems. A municipal water supply has since been installed.

Maloney says that without the stricter EPA oversight of disposal there's no guarantee the State of Indiana will take the steps necessary to keep Hoosiers safe from coal ash toxins.

The Council is urging Hoosiers to contact their U.S. Senators Richard Lugar and Daniel Coats and ask them to vote for EPA oversight of coal ash disposal.

Leigh DeNoon, Public News Service - IN