Something is very wrong in the Land of Cotton



Dr. Robert Bullard
Environmental Justice Movement Founder

Friday, March 25, 2011

"EPA Promoted the Use of Coal Ash Products With Incomplete Risk Information" OIG Report March 2011

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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  1. Annette in AlabamaMarch 25, 2011 at 12:32 AM

    What a bombshell! And I hope it is in time to convince the Senate Commerce, Transportation and Utilities Committee not to pass this bill (SB80) out of their committee. It should have been dead on arrival. Mr. Canfield and Mr. Marsh could have said NO. ADEM would have searched for another pair to tote their water. As sad as this may sound, there are dumber representatives in Montgomery than these two.

    It is a sad day in this state. Thank goodness for the release of this report.

    I have to wonder if Mr. Davis at ADEM knew about this information in October and he and ADEM quickly wrote this bill to have it ready for the session. I recall Mr. Canfield filed it early. Mr. Barnett was placed at ADEM instead of Corrections, where he belongs.

    I tried to talk to Mr. Canfield. As I recall he knew more than you and me and God and everybody.

    I did talk with Mr. Davis. It is unfortunate. He got a little too carried away. My, my.

    ADEM needs to be thinned out from the top down. This agency is a disgrace. The legislature is filled with career politicians who think lobbyists are like Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny and the beginning of a new session is all woo hoo!

    The fools on the hill.

    Great job Max! Thank you.

    I sure hope the Senate Committee is about to make the turn against this bill. If they don’t turn it down, I know some of the things I will be doing next campaign. This is how I get my kicks.

  2. How disappointing it will be for Mr. Marsh and Mr. Canfield once they realize how they were played by ADEM. And how disappointing is it going to be for Phil Davis and Vernon Barnett, McCrary and all the others who were counting on this bill to 'fix' so many of their problems and to 'save' them so much money and at the same time get a little bonus land money for the worthy.

    And just think about all that egg they have on themselves. HAHAHA What a mess.

    Robert Burns must have envisioned something similar to this group when he wrote, 'The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray.'

    The best laid plan home team ADEM could come up with was just not good enough, not quick enough, they did not get the right people for the draft, the handoff, the sponsorships and the cover-up.

    And it does look like they went to a whole lot of trouble.

    Man, I bet someone over at AP and ADEM and a few other places are going to be cussing about this one.


  3. Even with 26 lobbyists, AP could not stop this.

    From my initial summation I think it's a real good possibility EPA's delay doing that coal ash definition and announcing it would be making a decision about the regulation in 2012, was just a filler announcement. Delay tactic. They had to say something. Surely you didn't think it was going to be the truth.

    Perhaps they were hoping someone would step up with enough cash and pay off some senators and make this whole sordid affair disappear.

    Maybe EPA is the one being tossed under the bus with the coal ash after the March 11 incident in Japan and they know the nuclear plants in the USA are about as volatile as any place on earth or more so than the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

    Interesting how they pull this stuff out like magic tricks. It's like they are running games (gambling) only not as classy as Vegas and not a glam place like Monte Carlo. All of this has a rather distasteful air about it like carnival people. Fast talking, shady, shiftless, grubby, smelly and dirty.

    Good job.

  4. Amazing. I did not see this coming.

  5. Coal fly ash dumped into pits in Gambrills has contaminated nearby water supplies and the air as well.

    "We don't know how much exposure there is ... but what we do know is that all of this was preventable," said Brad Heavner, director of Environment Maryland, which had dust samples tested for fly ash.

    Fly ash causes respiratory inflammation, and it can enter the bloodstream through the lungs and cause heart problems.

    "It's going to take years before the problem shows up in people," said Norman Harvey of the Greater Gambrills Improvement Association. "We need to take the strongest action possible to prevent future damage."

    Read more at the Washington Examiner: Local Environmentalists Find Coal Fly Ash Gambrills Air

    Of the 12 samples collected from residential areas around the pits, all tested positive for fly ash.

    Eight samples contain other coal dust, which could either be from the fly ash dump site or soot from power plants. The American Lung Association in its 2007 report gave the county a failing grade for air quality.

    Most of the samples found trace evidence of fly ash, including a sample taken at a nearby playground. But one sample at the senior housing complex next to one of the pits showed 5 percent of the dust contained coal ash and soot.

    Alabama has a toxic exposure limit to bring action of two years.

  6. No Quarry in VincentMarch 25, 2011 at 8:27 AM

    Oh sure, the Alabama Legislature is transparent--you can see right through them.

    These guys have their heads in the sand when it comes to acknowledging that coal ash is hazardous.

  7. That kind of puts the nail in the coffin now doesn't it?
    There is nothing about this report that shows the supposed first priority of this agency, protecting the public health, what it does reveal is that industry lobbyists wrote the plan.
    Damning is a mild way of putting it.
    We should all thank the OIG for having the wherewithal to do this.

  8. This was reckless as hell. EPA should be ashamed of what they have done. Is this the way all recycling goes? Let the producers of the toxic mess decide what the rules should be?
    Are freakin' kidding me?

  9. One of these days these so called elected officials are going to screw up and the damage is going to be so bad we can charge them as terrorists cause they made weapons of mass destruction.

    Perhaps the President will continue to keep Gitmo open. I hear the rent is cheap down Cuba way.

  10. Big Coal laughs at us and uses us as it toys.
    What the EPA did with this was use us all as test subjects without our consent.
    I am not happy.

  11. Alabama Press is asleep on this report. Wonder why?

    Only ABC 33/40 picked up the AP story:


    "We have many decades of beneficial use of these products with no damage cases that have resulted from this beneficial use," said Thomas Adams, executive director of the American Coal Ash Association, in Aurora, Colo.
    (Of course the utility lobbyists would say that!!!)

    The EPA halted a program last year that promoted beneficial uses of coal ash, and took down a related website. The program, called the Coal Combustion Products Partnership, was started in 2001 with a goal of increasing the recycling of coal ash for use in other applications.

    Adams said he was concerned the inspector general's report is a harbinger of EPA plans to impose tougher standards on the substance.

    "You can kind of read between the lines that they truly don't support recycling anymore," Adams said.

    I read a lot more between the lines in that scathing report myself.


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