EPA Releases Coal Ash Pond Survey in Database Form

May 18, 2011

It's out: a database about utility coal ash ponds.

Sludge broke through the wall of denial in December 2008 when the TVA's Kingston fossil plant spilled coal ash slurry onto homes and waterways. As Americans became aware of hundreds of toxic coal ash slurry ponds around the country, electric utilities urged secrecy. The secrecy was not so much about protecting Americans from terrorists — although such claims were made — but about protecting utilities from regulation or costs.

The US Environmental Protection Agency May 17, 2011, released in spreadsheet form its database on 676 coal combustion waste impoundments at 240 facilities — making it much easier to cover the issue. After assessing many ponds, EPA rated at least 50 of the ponds as having high hazard potential. Some utilities are still claiming information about the publicly visible ponds is a trade secret, but EPA has denied most such claims.