Friday, October 22, 2021

Play

Some states entice people back to the workplace by increasing safety standards and higher minimum wage; Bannon held in Contempt of Congress; and the latest cyber security concerns.

Play

House votes to hold Bannon in contempt of Congress; Trump announces new social media platform TRUTH Social; and the Biden administration says it will continue to expel migrants under Title 42.

Play

An all-Black Oklahoma town joins big cities in seeking reparations; a Kentucky vaccination skeptic does a 180; telehealth proves invaluable during pandemic; and spooky destinations lure tourists at Halloween.

Coal Ash Disposal on Old Surface Mines: "Beneficial" to Whom?

Play

Monday, January 4, 2016   

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - A loophole for disposal of toxic coal ash is being widely misused across northern West Virginia, according to experts worried about heavy metals leaching into creeks and rivers.

As the U.S. wrestles with how to dispose of decades worth of coal ash, Jim Kotcon, Energy Committee chairman with the Sierra Club West Virginia Chapter, says as much as 40 percent of current disposal falls under a "beneficial use" exemption, despite the ash containing mercury, lead, arsenic and cadmium, among other toxins.

He says the state's waters are vulnerable with this kind of disposal.

"In most cases, that means it is being carried to surface mines, dumped on the ground for so-called soil remediation or acid mine drainage treatment," says Kotcon.

Under pressure from coal and power plant allies in Congress, the Environmental Protection Agency classified the ash as a "special waste" rather than a "hazardous waste." The U.S. still produces about 140 million tons of coal ash a year, one of the largest kinds of solid waste by weight. Some ends up being used to make products like paper and wallboard, but it's a small fraction of the total.

Most of the ash goes into landfills or temporary impoundments. The federal Office of Surface Mining is now writing rules for placing it on old mine sites. Congressman David McKinley has forcefully defended what he describes as coal ash "recycling." He argues that its use, in industries like paper-making, supports jobs. And he sponsored a bill to make the 'special waste' designation permanent.

"Three hundred-and-sixteen thousand jobs are at risk," says McKinley. "What we're trying to do is codify that provision, so that we've removed the uncertainty for the recyclers."

Kotcon says calling it "recycling" disguises the fact that in most cases of "beneficial use," the ash is just dumped on the ground or mixed with the soil. He says according to the EPA, that's the worst thing that can be done with the ash, given the likelihood of leaching into surface and ground water.

"And yet, there is very little regulation or monitoring of what happens to the heavy metals from these sites. We're just not monitoring it, and we don't have a good handle on where it's happening," says Kotcon.


get more stories like this via email

California has collected more than 600 tons of unwanted prescription drugs since the Take-Back Day program began in 2010. (Dodgerton Skillhause/Morguefile)

Health and Wellness

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Saturday is National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, when the Drug Enforcement Administration encourages everyone to clean out …


Health and Wellness

BALTIMORE - This month marks the four-year anniversary of the #MeToo movement, and an art project aims to help incarcerated survivors heal by telling …

Social Issues

OGDEN, Utah - Utah is one of only a handful of states that taxes food, but one state legislator says taxing groceries should become a thing of the …


In a new poll, 71% of all registered voters support strengthening rules to reduce oil and gas methane pollution, including 73% of Independents and 50% of Republicans. (Adobe Stock)

Environment

CASPER, Wyo. - A strong majority of voters across party lines say they want national rules similar to those passed in Wyoming to reduce methane …

Health and Wellness

ARLINGTON, Va. - Although COVID-19 rates have gone down, the virus continues to hit the Hispanic community especially hard. Now, a new campaign aims …

Child-care advocates say if North Dakota doesn't boost funding for the system, more families might pull out of the workforce because of access issues. (Adobe Stock)

Social Issues

BISMARCK, N.D. - A portion of American Rescue Plan funding sent to North Dakota has yet to be divvied up. Groups that want to improve the child-care …

Social Issues

PITTSBURGH - As businesses across the country deal with a massive labor shortage, Pennsylvania aims to entice people back to the workplace by …

Environment

ALBANY, N.Y. - Environmental groups want Gov. Kathy Hochul to sign a bill that mandates monitoring the state's drinking water for "emerging …

 

Phone: 303.448.9105 Toll Free: 888.891.9416 Fax: 208.247.1830 Your trusted member- and audience-supported news source since 1996 Copyright 2021