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20th April 2019
...Continued from Part 1

But there is some progress on the state level. Abel Russ, senior attorney at EIP, says some states do more in terms of coal regulation than the federal rules require. For example, he says, while the federal rule doesn’t cover landfills that were closed before 2015, Georgia is regulating those landfills on a state level.

“There are some states that are good role models, and states that are bad role models,” Russ says. “But there’s a lot of room for states to grow on this issue and do a better job.”

Meanwhile Russ estimates that about half of the coal ash buried in America is in landfills and ponds that were closed before 2015, and therefore, are not regulated by the Coal Ash Rule.

“We are hoping that someone should take a note of that fact and require a more comprehensive inventory of all of the ash coal repositories across the country and require clean-up where necessary,” he says.

In its report EIP calls for companies that operate coal plants to dig up the coal ash from all dumps that are located near groundwater and put it elsewhere.

When asked whether it’s possible to clean up coal-ash contamination, Russ says it depends on the site. In some cases it moves very quickly, and in some places it moves slowly.

“You won’t be able to clean up everything,” he says. “But you really can make a difference at each site and see it in a short period of time. It might be five years, it might be 10 years, but you will see the groundwater return to normal if you take the source of pollution out of the picture.”

Daria Bachmann