"The Biden administration is moving to close a loophole that had exempted hundreds of inactive coal ash landfills from rules designed to prevent heavy metals like mercury and arsenic from seeping into groundwater, the Environmental Protection Agency said Wednesday.
Coal ash, a byproduct from burning coal in power plants, contains lead, lithium and mercury. Those metals can pollute waterways and drinking water supplies and have been linked to health effects, including cancer, birth defects and developmental delays in children. They are also toxic to fish.
The proposed regulation, part of a settlement between the E.P.A. and environmental groups, would require those responsible for the coal ash to monitor groundwater supplies and clean up any contamination from the landfills.
Michael S. Regan, the E.P.A. administrator, said the rule would help to protect low-income communities of color, where the overwhelming number of old landfills are located."