Full Title: Repairing the Damage: Cleaning Up Hazardous Coal Ash Can Create Jobs and Improve the Environment
Author(s): Jeremy Richardson, Eric Dixon, Ted Boettner
Publisher(s): Union of Concerned Scientists, Ohio River Valley Institute
Publication Date: October 13, 2021
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Coal-fired power plant closures over the last decade have reduced air pollution and, as a result, improved public health. But there is another coal-era legacy that poses a serious health threat long after power plants are closed: the leftover ash residue from burning coal, which is teeming with arsenic, lead, radium, and other toxic elements.
Since the mid-1960s, US electric utilities have generated 4.5 billion tons of ash, and despite recent plant closures, they still produce an average of 100 million tons annually, which they mix in water and store in often leaky impoundments called coal ash ponds. There are more than 700 of these ponds across the country, and more than 20 percent of them are in the Ohio River Valley.
The report, which focuses on a site in southern Ohio and another in western Kentucky, recommends a “clean-closure” approach that would better protect public health and the environment and provide more local job opportunities than what either of the utilities plan to do.