EPA is taking several actions to protect communities and hold facilities accountable for controlling and cleaning up the contamination created by decades of coal ash disposal. Coal combustion residuals (CCR or coal ash), a byproduct of burning coal in coal-fired power plants, contains contaminants like mercury, cadmium, and arsenic that without proper management can pollute waterways, groundwater, drinking water, and the air.
Today’s actions advance the agency’s commitment to protecting groundwater from coal ash contamination and include (1) proposing decisions on requests for extensions to the current deadline for initiating closure of unlined CCR surface impoundments; (2) putting several facilities on notice regarding their obligations to comply with CCR regulations and (3) laying out plans for future regulatory actions to ensure coal ash impoundments meet strong environmental and safety standards. EPA is committed to working with states to ensure robust protections for communities.
“I’ve seen firsthand how coal ash contamination can hurt people and communities. Coal ash surface impoundments and landfills must operate and close in a manner that protects public health and the environment,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “For too long, communities already disproportionately impacted by high levels of pollution have been burdened by improper coal ash disposal. Today’s actions will help us protect communities and hold facilities accountable. We look forward to working with our state partners to reverse damage that has already occurred. EPA will support communities with stakeholder engagement, technical assistance, compliance assistance, and enforcement.”
“New York State applauds the Biden administration and U.S. EPA Administrator Michael Regan for acting to protect communities nationwide from the dangers posed by coal ash disposal. The efforts announced today will help safeguard our communities and natural resources, and send a clear message—regulators are rigorously monitoring coal ash facilities and ready to hold violators accountable,” said New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos. “DEC is committed to partnering with EPA to protect our communities from the reckless practices of our country’s lingering coal legacy and today’s announcement is a critical milestone in these efforts.”
“As the transition from coal advances, it is also critical that we responsibly manage the legacy wastes that have been left from our historical reliance on coal,” said Liesl Clark, Director of the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE). “Michigan is advancing efforts to reach our state’s goal of a carbon-neutral economy by 2050. We support EPA’s ongoing efforts to provide clarity around the coal combustion residuals rules and to ensure that our world-class freshwater resources and the drinking water they provide are not impacted by these legacy wastes.”