Scientists Call for Safer Coal Waste Impoundments

October 17, 2001


After the disastrous collapse of a Kentucky coal waste impoundment in October 2000, and other impoundment failures in the past few decades, Congress asked the National Research Council to recommend ways to help reduce the potential for future calamities at about 700 U.S. facilities.

An NRC committee released its report, "Coal Waste Impoundments: Risks, Responses, and Alternatives," on October 12, 2001. The committee calls for increased federal regulation; improvements in the governmental review process; authorization of a major study of the entire mining process, including studies of alternative coal waste disposal methods; exploration of tax breaks and financial incentives for the industry; and improved mapping of existing underground mines, which is one of the prime culprits in impoundment failures. NRC media: Bill Kearney, 202-334-2138.