U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's List of 44 High Hazard coal ash disposal sites
|This article is part of the Global Energy Monitor coverage of the coal-fired power station coal ash|
|Industry groups promoting the use of coal ash|
In June 2009, Sierra Club, Earthjustice, the Environmental Integrity Project, and the NRDC filed a Freedom of Information Act request to gain access to a list of 44 coal ash disposal sites that EPA has classified as "high hazard." EPA has thus far refused to disclose which of the hundreds of coal ash sites across the country pose the biggest threat to neighboring communities. The agency was told by the US Department of Homeland Security not to release the information, citing unspecified national security concerns. The locations of other hazardous sites, such as nuclear power plants, are publicly available.
In response to demands from environmentalists as well as Senator Barbara Boxer (D-California), chair of the Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works, EPA made public its list of 44 "high hazard potential" coal waste dumps. The rating applies to sites at which a dam failure would most likely cause loss of human life, but does not include an assessment of the likelihood of such an event. The list includes sites in 10 states, including 12 in North Carolina, 9 in Arizona, 6 in Kentucky, 6 in Ohio, and 4 in West Virginia. Eleven of the sites belong to American Electric Power, 10 to Duke Energy. No Tennessee Valley Authority sites were included on the list. EPA relied on self-reporting by utilities to rank the facilities, and TVA classied all of its dump sites - including Kingston Fossil Plant - as "low hazard."
Two weeks after the release of EPA's list, Tennessee Valley Authority reclassified four of its coal disposal sites to “high.” The four sites include Colbert and Widows Creek Fossil Plants in Alabama and Bull Run Fossil Plant and Cumberland Steam Plant in Tennessee. TVA reclassified most of its other dumps as "significant" hazards, meaning that a dam failure would likely cause economic loss and environmental damage. TVA had initially ranked all its sites as having "low" hazard potential.
EPA's List of 44 High Hazard Potential Units
The following table comes from EPA's official list of Coal Combustion Residue (CCR) Surface Impoundments with High Hazard Potential Ratings. This list is organized alphabetically by company.
- "Enviros Demand Locations of 44 'High Hazard' Coal Ash Sites, Environmental News Service, June 19, 2009.
- Shaila Dewan, "E.P.A. Lists ‘High Hazard’ Coal Ash Dumps," New York Times, June 30, 2009.
- Shaila Dewan, "Tennessee Valley Authority Increases Hazard Ratings on Coal Ash Sites," New York Times, July 17, 2009.
- Fact Sheet: Coal Combustion Residues (CCR) - Surface Impoundments with High Hazard Potential Ratings, Environmental Protection Agency, June 2009.
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