http://www.cleanenergy.org/2012/12/11/launch-of-southeastcoalashorg-in-florida/

SACE | Southern Alliance for Clean Energy

Launch of SoutheastCoalAsh.org in Florida

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Jacksonville, Fla. – Today Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, Appalachian Voices, Southern Environmental Law Center, and NC Conservation Network launched the first-ever comprehensive online tool that allows Floridians to find specific information about coal ash impoundments near them. The site, www.SoutheastCoalAsh.org, includes information on the health threats associated with this toxic waste from coal-fired power plants, safety ratings of the coal ash impoundments, and how citizens can advocate for strong federal safeguards. Florida is one of nine states covered by the site, which is being launched four years after a massive coal ash dam in Kingston, Tennessee catastrophically failed, releasing a billion-gallon flood of coal ash that poisoned some 300 acres, destroyed two dozen homes and filled the Emory River with toxic sludge. The coalition developed the website to call attention to the lurking dangers of coal ash in the South, where nearly 450 impoundments hold roughly 118 billion gallons of the toxic waste. “Florida is home to 78 coal ash impoundments that are threatening our waterways,” stated Ulla Reeves with the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. “SoutheastCoalAsh.org offers concerned citizens a new way to learn about coal plants near their homes and in their communities that may have dangerous coal ash storage impoundmentss.” The site features an interactive map and database of 100 coal-fired power plants in the Southeast, color-coded by the amount of damage each would inflict if the coal ash dams were to break, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). A brief glance at the map shows just how much more work needs to be done to assess these dangers – almost half of the plants in the Southeast have inadequate data for EPA to properly assess the coal ash dams on site. Moreover, many of the plants lack adequate water monitoring data to show whether or not there are contamination problems at these sites. Notably, of those dams that are rated in the Southeast, nearly one-third are “high hazard,” meaning that a dam failure like Kingston would likely cause fatalities. Of Florida’s 12 coal -fired power plants, only one has ash impoundments that have received hazard ratings. This does not mean that the unrated dams pose no threats to human and environmental health, only that EPA was unable to obtain the necessary information from utilities about these impoundments. However, reports from the Environmental Integrity Project found that several plants, including the Big Bend Power Station in Apollo Beach and the Seminole Generating Station in Palatka, have impoundments with high levels of contaminants such as arsenic, fluoride, thallium, chloride, manganese and others. “It’s been over four years since EPA promised to properly regulate coal ash, but it remains an unregulated toxic waste largely stored in unlined holding lagoons, much to the detriment of Florida’s drinking and recreational waters,” continued Ulla Reeves. “SoutheastCoalAsh.org provides citizens with the information and tools to communicate directly with EPA and their Congressional Representatives to ask for greater urgency in providing federal protection from toxic coal ash.” “Coal ash ponds pose a serious threat to Florida’s waterways and communities, but they are largely invisible to the public,” stated Angelique Giraud, Energy Community Organizer with Clean Water Action and Clean Water Fund. “Florida’s high water table and porous soil make our water especially vulnerable to pollution. This website puts a spotlight on the hidden dangers of coal ash ponds. The public has a right to know if their communities are impacted and how to contribute to creating safe standards to prevent toxic exposure.” The new website features more than a dozen informational pages detailing the health and environmental hazards of coal ash as well as the current legislative and regulatory environment, active legal battles, links to additional articles, news and more. Every coal-fired power plant in the Southeast has a site-specific page, accessible from the interactive map. One click takes you deeper into the data about each plant to find out if there are any known contamination problems at the coal ash impoundment(s) on site, local action groups you can contact about that plant, as well as other local, state, and regional and federal actions citizens can take. # # #