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Buried But Not Forgotten: Coal Ash in the Chesapeake

Waterkeepers Chesapeake – “The Chesapeake Bay region has a problem it thought it could bury and forget. But the solution for coal ash is not so simple. Coal ash, also referred to as coal combustion residuals or CCRs, is produced primarily from the burning of coal in coal-fired power plants. Coal ash contains hazardous pollutants including arsenic, boron, cobalt, chromium, lead, lithium, mercury, radium, selenium, and other heavy metals, which have been linked to cancer, heart and thyroid disease, reproductive failure, and neurological harm. Without proper management, these contaminants can pollute groundwater and surface waterways and the air causing severe health issues. Maryland’s Power Plant Research Program has identified 400 million tons, with estimates that it may be as high as 700 million tons, of coal ash in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. The EPA’s 2015 Coal Ash Rule created the first-ever safeguards for coal ash disposal, and ushered in an era of rapid closure of coal-fired power plants. A report released in March 2019 by Earthjustice and Environmental Integrity Project revealed widespread coal-ash contamination in 39 states — and at more than 91 percent of the power plants monitored. It cited the Brandywine coal ash landfill in Maryland’s Patuxent River watershed as one of the 10 worst coal ash contamination cases in the country. In the Chesapeake Bay region, Waterkeepers have spent several years taking action to ensure the cleanup of toxic coal ash at these sites. Many of our communities have been impacted by the legacy of toxic coal ash that has been stored in leaking ponds along the banks of the Potomac, James, Patuxent, Susquehanna and many other rivers and streams. Coal ash is an environmental justice issue because historically a high number of coal-fired power plants and coal ash landfills have been situated in low income communities of color.”

See alsoMaryland sites are among most polluting coal ash waste dumps in the nation, study finds

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