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The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) is pleased to unveil the redesigned southeastcoalash.org. Our southeast power plant map feature is handier, the pages and design are streamlined, and the entire site is now mobile friendly. Click the video above to look around!
The new and improved southeastcoalash.org is a one-stop-site for data and action opportunities in the southeast. The map makes it easy to find coal ash stored near your community, maps of coal ash pits, and information on ground and surface water contamination where available. Each facility page links you directly to coal ash data provided by utilities in compliance with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) coal ash rule, saving the trouble of hunting down each individual utility’s website. This utility data includes how much coal ash and wastewater are stored at power plants, and will soon include results of groundwater monitoring for contamination.
Southeastcoalash.org was originally launched in December 2012 and is managed by SACE in partnership with Appalachian Voices, Southern Environmental Law Center, and North Carolina Conservation Network. Let’s take a tour:
Southeast Power Plant Map and Facility Pages
Our southeast power plant map is the first thing you’ll see when you visit southeastcoalash.org. It identifies power plants in the southeast United States with smokestack icons.
Zooming in on a power plant will reveal its coal ash pits outlined in yellow. Click on the smokestack icon to see the power plant’s individual facility page. It provides details about the plant’s owner(s), age, size, and power production capacity as well as details about the region and river basin where the plant is located, and which local groups you can contact for more information.
Coal ash is often stored in unlined pits separated from our waterways by earthen dams that can leak or, as in the case of the Kingston disaster, catastrophically rupture. Each smokestack icon on the southeastcoalash.org map is color-coded to provide the latest available EPA hazard rating for these dams.
On each facility page, dam hazard ratings appear prominently at the top of the page. The hazard ratings indicate different levels of risk to human life and property:
- High Hazard (red)— Indicates that a dam failure is likely to cause loss of human life.
- Significant Hazard (orange)— Dam failure is likely to cause significant economic loss, environmental damage, or damage to infrastructure.
- Low Hazard (brown)— Dam failure would likely not result in loss of human life and would only result in low economic or environmental losses.
- Not Rated (gray)
Utilities are required by EPA’s coal ash rule to create websites to host information about their coal ash pits in order to make that information available to the public. At the top of each facility page, we provide direct links to these websites where you can find information on the amount of ash and wastewater stored at the power plant and, in the future, details on the pit’s structural stability and whether or not groundwater contamination has been reported.
You can find the information we have collected so far on coal ash pits by clicking the skull and crossbones icon at the bottom of each facility page. The process of updating southeastcoalash.org to reflect the latest information available is ongoing as new data becomes available, so check back frequently! Make sure to click the four other icons at the bottom of each facility page if you would like more images of the power plant and its ash pits, information about groundwater and surface water contamination, and direct links to download our data.
About Coal Ash
In addition to data on coal ash pits, southeastcoalash.org offers introductory information to help community members, reporters, and advocates understand the issues that surround coal ash. Under the “About Coal Ash” tab on the site’s main page, visitors will find details about coal ash’s risks to public health and the environment and succinct overviews of the Kingston and Dan River disasters which raised alarms about coal ash throughout the U.S. and sparked efforts to regulate this toxic waste.
Utilities are beginning to “close” coal ash pits, but closure doesn’t necessarily mean that cleanup will be thorough and the risks of ground and surface water contamination will be eliminated. The “About Coal Ash” tab includes details about coal ash wet and dry storage and analysis of what utilities mean when they talk about coal ash reuse, so Southerners can challenge utilities with inadequate plans to do a better job.
The site includes resources on how coal ash is regulated at every level of government. Check out our state pages for an overview of the history and regulation of coal ash in your state and explore EPA’s coal ash rules to learn more about the strengths and potential weaknesses of federal coal ash regulations.
Visit southeastcoalash.org’s “Take Action!” page, where we highlight timely opportunities for you to help ensure that coal ash is properly regulated at the state, regional, and federal levels. In the last two years, we’ve helped Southerners:
- urge congress to close a dangerous loophole in EPA’s coal ash rule that excludes household garbage landfills that accept coal ash from important protective measures;
- ask their members of Congress to oppose legislation that would undermine EPA’s coal ash rule;
- call on EPA to strengthen its guidelines for wastewater discharges from power plants and coal ash pits; and
- urge state environmental agencies to implement and strengthen state coal ash regulations.
EPA’s coal ash rule requires utilities to provide lots of information through their public coal ash websites. Some of the data on these websites will be updated on an annual basis, and we’ll update our facility pages and our maps as new data becomes available. Additionally, many states in our region are developing rules to regulate coal ash. We will incorporate them into our state pages so you can quickly understand the basics of how coal ash is governed in your state.
Finally, as utilities “close” coal ash pits, states move to regulate coal ash, and congress continues to contemplate weakening federal coal ash rules, we’ll have more opportunities for you to take action on coal ash issues. Share our video on Facebook and Twitter to help us reach more Southerners, and remember to check back with us frequently!