In a report imbedded below, released March 23, 2011 by the US EPA Office of the Inspector General, we see there is much more than we thought to be very concerned about with the EPA's partnership with industry to recycle coal ash.
Especially when we learn that faulty and industry friendly data was used in making beneficial use guidelines. Towards the end of the report note how defensive the EPA becomes to the OIG recommendations, i.e.: "We can't possibly check previous sites because we don't have any records, we thought the states had them and the utility plants probably don't have any either." (paraphrasing) That's very telling.
Some quotes from the OIG:
"EPA has relied on the American Coal Ash Association data to determine the volumes of coal ash used in beneficial use applications."
"EPA's promotion of CCR beneficial uses to date has been based, in part, on limited leachate testing data that may not be applicable to beneficial use scenarios."
EPA did not follow accepted and standard practices in determining the safety of the 15 categories of CCR beneficial uses it promoted through the C2P2 program. EPA’s application of risk assessment, risk screening, and leachate testing and modeling was significantly limited in scope and applicability. Without proper protections, CCR contaminants can leach into ground water and migrate to drinking water sources, posing significant public health concerns.
EPA officials told us they relied on individual state beneficial use programs to review and approve specific CCR beneficial uses, and to manage associated risks. EPA established, but did not implement, plans in 2005 to identify environmentally safe and beneficial use practices. Had EPA implemented its plans, it may have known earlier about risks from large-scale disposal of CCRs described as beneficial use.In other words, they went ahead with this plan in a very haphazard manner, and the OIG is to be commended for holding the EPA accountable and revealing how much they have gotten wrong. And it's a lot.
Relying on the American Coal Ash Association, which is an "umbrella lobbying group" of coal fired power plant giants, to determine anything regarding what application amounts of toxic coal ash are 'safe' is the fox watching the hen house. It's ludicrous beyond belief! What was the EPA thinking?
We would ask the same question of the Alabama legislators who are being inundated with the force of 26 Alabama Power/BARD lobbyists to not classify coal ash as toxic and allow it to be dumped in landfills all across the state. What are they thinking? That one is easy--they're thinking of ways to make big campaign donors happy and how to profit from a foolish law.
If the Alabama Legislature follows the insistence of ADEM, Alabama Power lobbyists and Lance Brown of PACE and allows SB80 (sponsored by Senator Del Marsh-R) to become law with this report in hand, we submit they are derelict in their fiduciary duty to understand the consequences and risks of coal ash to the public at large.
Representative Canfield-R Vestavia Hills, started this ball rolling with the the House version of the bill, HB50, that left the committee he chairs, Commerce and Small Business Committee on a voice vote, avoiding an official record of how each member voted, avoiding their constituents right to transparent government.
We will place the end result of this very risky bill squarely on each one of their shoulders first and foremost, if it becomes another devil may care type of Alabama law.
EPA OIG Evaluation Report Coal Ash March 23, 2011
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