SACE | Southern Alliance for Clean Energy

Coal Ash in the Southeast


If clean water is important to you and your family, you need to know about a silent danger to our waterways and public health. Coal ash, the waste left over after coal is burned to generate power, contains concentrated amounts of heavy metals, such as lead, mercury, arsenic, chromium, and selenium, which are hazardous to human health and to wildlife.

Coal ash, mixed with water to form a toxic slurry, is stored in huge pits, commonly called “coal ash impoundments,” “ponds,” or “lagoons.” These pits often have no liners to prevent heavy metals from getting into drinking water. The Southeast is home to 40% of the nation’s coal ash impoundments, and according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), contains 21 of the nation’s 45 high hazard dams.

Nearly 450 impoundments across the region contain 118 billion gallons of toxic waste – that’s enough coal ash to cover over 275,000 football fields one foot deep! These impoundments are mostly located near major waterways, including on drinking water reservoirs, threatening the water we rely on for drinking, agriculture, fishing, and recreation.

To learn more about coal ash, and if it threatens the places where you live work and play please visit our webpage: