WASHINGTON, D.C. –In advance of expected public health and safety rules on the disposal of coal byproducts by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) today sent a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson asking for information on EPA’s findings related to coal byproducts, their health and public safety effects, and the basis for proper regulation of the substances.
When coal is burned for electricity, several byproducts result, most notably a substance called “coal ash.” These byproducts contain high levels of toxic substances like arsenic. Recent studies and news reports have revealed that many of the coal ash ponds and other storage methods for these substances have been inadequate, allowing the pollution of groundwater, streams and other waterways.

In the letter, Rep. Markey, who is Chairman of the Energy and Environment Subcommittee of Energy and Commerce, which has jurisdiction over electricity generation and protection of drinking water, among other issues, says that he is; “deeply concerned about the risks posed by disposal of waste from coal-fired power plants. I am encouraged that [the EPA has] announced plans to take regulatory action on this matter, and intend to support swift and vigorous action to protect public health and the environment.”

 The letter, which follows an initial set of questions sent in January of this year to EPA on coal ash disposal, probes specific problems at the Hatsfield Ferry Plant, where tens of thousands of gallons of toxic wastewater has been released into the Monongahela River in Pennsylvania. The letter asks whether other plants are having similar issues with toxic discharge, and why such low rates of enforcement have been levied on plants that have violated the Clean Water Act, and whether those enforcement measures will be increased.

The letter is available on Chairman Markey’s website here: http://markey.house.gov/docs/101509_coal_wastewater_epa.pdf



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