SACE staff member Joan Walker contributed to this post.
Today Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, in partnership with Appalachian Voices, Southern Environmental Law Center, and North Carolina Conservation Network, are launching the first-ever comprehensive online tool that allows citizens to find specific information about coal ash impoundments near them. The site, www.SoutheastCoalAsh.org, features an interactive map that shows what level of safety a particular power plant’s coal ash dams meet. One click takes you deeper into the data about each plant and highlights if there are any known contamination problems at the coal ash impoundment(s) on site as well as what local groups you can contact about the issue. With 21 of the nation’s 45 High Hazard ash impoundments here in the Southeast, it is clear our problem looms large above the rest of the country.
Nine states are covered by the site, which launching almost exactly four years to the date since the massive coal ash dam in Kingston, Tenn. catastrophically failed, releasing over a billion gallons 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 greater attention to the lurking dangers of coal ash in the South, where 40% of the nation’s coal ash is held in nearly 450 coal ash impoundments, with roughly 118 billion gallons of the toxic waste. That’s enough coal ash waste to fill over 300,000 football stadiums!
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 EPA, helping citizens understand the challenges faced by the region and their state. Importantly, the site allows a simple and quick way for visitors to Take Action by contacting our Southeast EPA Region 4 Administrator about concerns in the ongoing delay of the agency to finalize national coal ash regulations.
Users will also find 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. In addition to each coal-fired power plant in the Southeast having a site-specific page, users can choose the “Table of Power Plants” tab on the home/map page to sort a variety of information including hazard rating, total gallons of coal ash, nearest water body, and your location.
A few compelling details featured by the website:
- Almost half the coal plants in the Southeast have inadequate data for EPA to properly assess the coal ash dams on site, with both SC and FL only receiving a dam hazard rating for one of their 12 plants.
- Many plants lack adequate water monitoring data to show whether or not there are water contamination problems associated with ash impoundments.
- In Alabama, three of the five plants with EPA ratings have been rated as high or significant hazard.
- In Virginia, only five of the state’s 13 power plants have been inspected for on site coal ash dam safety by the EPA.
- North Carolina has more high hazard coal ash impoundment dams than any other state in the Southeast, with high-hazard dams found at seven of its 14 coal plants, plus the NC’s own office of dam safety found that nearly all the state’s dams are high hazard!
- In Tennessee, all of the state’s eight plants have either significant or high-hazard dams.
- Kentucky has more coal-fired power plants than any other state in the Southeast; about one half of them have significant or high-hazard ash impoundments on site.
- In Georgia, dams at seven of the states 11 coal plants have been rated by the EPA for safety; dams at all but one of the plants were found to pose a significant or high hazard.
Please spread the word about this important new internet resource! If you would like to review the press release for your state about the website release, please find them here:
Watch a video demonstration of the website here: