Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Coal ash debate will affect Arizona

Two Arizona coal-fired power plants that have ash ponds are part of a national debate. An article on by Ken Silverstein offers an update. "Coal-burning power plants consume 1 billion tons of coal each year" producing 140 million tons of coal in the form of fly ash, bottom ash, scrubber sludge and boiler slag, according to Earth Justice. [Right, ash ponds at Cholla power plant, near Joseph City]

Environmental groups want the EPA to reclassify it from solid waste to toxic waste. But about 40% of the ash is recycled into things such as cement and dry wall. The Edison Electric Institute argues that designating the ash as toxic will make it less likely to be recycled, resulting in more of it piling up in pools and landfills.

Environmental groups are preparing to sue EPA to force them to classify the ash as toxic, acknowledging they want to make this an election year issue. The White House says that no matter how ash is regulated they want it to continue to be recycled.


  1. I think it should be recycled. I'm also an environmentalist, but it seems to me that if you want to eliminate coal ash, go about it by phasing out coal plants.

    1. Please don't be fooled by industry propaganda. Classifying coal ash as toxic provides an incentive for legitimate recycling such as reusing it in cement, bowling balls, roofing, bricks and other products which encapsulate toxicants and minimizes leaching. Industry refuses to phase out dumping coal ash in ponds and landfills next to waterways - the least safe way to manage the residuals. Ponding ruins the possibility that coal ash can be recycled while destroying fish and aquatic habitat but it is the cheapest method, then industry pretends there are no effects to aquatic life which is the farthest from the truth.

  2. The cleanup plan is to drill wells allowing the solvent to flow into them. Pumps will extract the water and send it through a treatment process before retiring it to the ground. The cleanup process may take 15 years or more. PCE easily evaporates into air where people can be affected by breathing it. It is considered a carcinogen.