June 30, 2009

List Of Coal Ash Ponds Released

Dangerous coal ash storage ponds are lurking in 26 U.S. communities, according to the Environmental Protection Agency on Monday.

Just last year, a coal ash storage pond flooded a neighborhood in Tennessee. Coal ash, a product of burning coal, is kept in liquid, in containment ponds or dams.

The public list says North Carolina has the most sites on the list, weighing in at a dozen.

The EPA lists more than 400 such impoundments across the country, but the 44 singled out Monday represent those that are near populated areas, posing a higher risk of danger.

The largest concentration of coal ash sites is near Cochise, Arizona, where there are seven storage ponds.

The agency says all 44 coal ash sites will be investigated to make certain they are structurally sound.

The sites are being treated as potentially highly hazardous because they are in close proximity to neighborhoods.

"The high hazard potential means there will be probable loss of human life if there is a significant dam failure," said Matt Hale, director of EPA's office of research, conservation and recovery. "It is a measure of what would happen if the dam would fail. It is not a measure of the stability of the dam."

Two days before Christmas last year, a coal ash pond broke near Kingston, Tennessee.

It sent 5 million cubic yards of ash and sludge across more than 300 acres, destroying or damaging 40 homes.

The incident immediately prompted a review of the safety of such storage ponds that hold the coal-burning waste byproduct near large coal-burning power plants.

Previously, the national coal ash site list has not been provided to the public.

Earlier this month the Army Corps of Engineers said it didn't want the locations disclosed because of national security and that it could help terrorists target such facilities.

Hale claims that issue has been resolved.

The seven ponds near Cochise, Ariz., hold material from the Apache Station Combustion Waste Disposal Facility operated by Arizona Electric Power Cooperative.

North Carolina has 12 sites, Arizona has nine, Kentucky has seven, Ohio has six, West Virginia rings in at four, and Illinois has two. Indiana, Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Montana all have one each.


Image Caption: Tennessee Fly Ash containment failure December 23, 2008 in Kingston, Tennessee. Courtesy Tennessee Valley Authority


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