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Friday, February 26, 2010

Coal Ash Controversy

Coal Ash Controversy

Reported by: Cynthia Gould
Last Update: 2/25 11:04 pm
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Coal Ash Controversy






Neighbors who live across from the Arrowhead Landfill in Uniontown say they’re afraid for their health and their property.
80 year old Ruby Holmes says what should have been the best days of her life, have turned into the worst days.
The landfill spans nearly a thousand acres. It was first pitched as a landfill for household garbage; now coal ash from one of the worst environmental disasters is being hauled in here and dumped everyday. It is brought by train from Kingston, Tennessee through Birmingham to Uniontown in Perry County.
Residents say the coal ash should have stayed in Tennessee. The coal ash is a by product of coal fired power plants. It is a mix of arsenic, lead and other chemicals and heavy metals. Both the EPA and ADEM approved plans to dump the coal ash here, along with the Perry County Commission.
Perry County Commissioner Albert Turner says the agreement has meant new jobs for the depressed area and will eventually mean about $3.5 million dollars for the county budget to use for things like infrastructure and schools.
John Wathen of the environmental group Hurrican Creekkeeper in Tuscaloosa calls the dumping of coal ash in Alabama an environmental crime
A lawsuit on behalf of more than 150 residents is now in the works. Even Governor Bob Riley says it may be time for the state to take a more active role in regulating big landfills.
“The last thing Alabama wants is to be known as the dumping ground for the rest of the U.S.,” said Riley in an interview.
CBS 42 News has tried several times to contact the owners of the Arrowhead Landfill. They have not returned our calls.
The EPA is looking at regulating coal ash waste. The disaster in Kingston where a dike for a coal ash holding pond burst led to renewed focus on how coal ash is being stored and disposed of at power plants across the country.

CBS News 42 report on Perry Co Ash Hole

Friday, February 19, 2010

Lawyer says Demopolis violates rules

City’s water and sewer board could face lawsuit
By Jason Morton Staff Writer
Published: Friday, February 19, 2010 at 3:30 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, February 18, 2010 at 9:36 p.m.

A Florida environmental attorney has notified the Demopolis Water Works and Sewer Board that it will be sued unless it complies with state water discharge regulations.

Citing a history of violations by the water and sewer board that dates back more than a decade, environmental lawyer David A. Ludder said a motivating factor behind the initiation of legal action is its acceptance of leachate from a landfill in Perry County.

Leachate is the liquid-based sludge that accumulates in the depths of a landfill.

“It is about every (violation), but one of the violations is the acceptance of the leachate,” said Ludder, who also has filed intent to sue letters with the operators of the Arrowhead Landfill in Uniontown.

Millions of tons of coal ash have been arriving at the landfill daily by railroad since July. The substance, known to contain harmful toxins and heavy metals, spilled from a Tennessee Valley Authority power plant in December 2008.

It is shipped suspended in water, which is meant to prevent the particulate ash from blowing across the countryside during the high-speed trip to Perry County.

The Demopolis Water Works and Sewer Board has been accepting and processing the leachate for about six months, although it had no permit from the Alabama Department of Environmental Management to do so, Ludder said.

Additionally, the Demopolis board’s permit for discharging household wastewater has expired.

Mayor Mike Grayson blamed the failed permit renewal on a “bureaucratic technicality,” but declined to say specifically what the technicality was.

Grayson also said the leachate is placed in a dedicated holding tank at the wastewater treatment facility and is tested before processing. If the toxin levels are too high, then the leachate is returned to the landfill operators.

“The process of handling this leachate is being done with a scientific and utmost professional care ...,” Grayson said, adding that recent tests of the leachate indicate it is “as safe as drinking water.”



“We are not, for the sake of a dollar, selling out the well being of our community,” the mayor said.

Demopolis is now working through a process to renew its discharge permit, something that Grayson said he is confident will be granted.

“We feel that we have done everything to make sure that we are legal and ADEM and the (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) is satisfied,” Grayson said.

Scott Hughes, a spokesman for ADEM, said the processing of the coal ash leachate by Demopolis has not risen to a level of serious alarm within the agency.

The leachate processing is, however, a big part of the discharge permit renewal process.

“We’re certainly aware that the landfill leachate material has been sent to the city of Demopolis,” Hughes said. “And we’re certainly aware that the city of Demopolis has allowed their permit to expire.

“We’ll certainly be looking at the capability of that wastewater treatment plant to handle the leachate coming from the landfill.”

Ludder said the goal of the Feb. 9 notice of intent to sue letters isn’t necessarily to halt the Perry County leachate from entering Demopolis.

Rather, he said, it is to compel the Demopolis Water Works and Sewer Board to begin operating with established environmental rules.

We hope to get them back in compliance,” Ludder said. “Obviously, they should not be taking coal ash leachate if they’re not in compliance. But they have a long history of non-compliance, and it’s got to stop.”

Reach Jason Morton at jason.morton@tuscaloosanews.com or 205-722-0200.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Black Water Rafting: When Will the EPA Enforce Coal Ash Laws in Alabama?

From Huffington Post

Jeff Biggers

What is the EPA's excuse now? Waiting for more torrential rain to host Olympic Black Water rafting competitions?
As heavy rains and snow worsen landfill conditions, this is the sentiment of besieged residents in Perry County, Alabama, who have been designated as the official keepers of toxic coal ash from the nation's worst environmental disaster -- the TVA coal ash pond break in 2008.
Two weeks ago, the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) released a startling study that found that the EPA had allowed coal ash industry representatives to blatantly rewrite and water-down the potential dangers of coal ash in official government reports. PEER concluded:
During the Bush administration, EPA entered into a formal partnership with the coal industry, most prominently, the American Coal Ash Association, to promote coal combustion wastes for industrial, agricultural and consumer product uses. This effort has helped grow a multi-billion dollar market which the industry worries would be crimped by a hazardous waste designation. The documents obtained by PEER under the Freedom of Information Act show how this partnership gave the coal ash industry a chance to change a variety of EPA draft publications and presentations, including -
Removal of "cautionary language" about application of coal combustion wastes on agricultural lands in an EPA brochure to be replaced with "exclamation point ! language" "re-affirming the environmental benefits...that reinforces the idea that FGD [flue gas desulfurization] gypsum is a good thing" in the word of an American Coal Ash Association representative;
A draft of EPA's 2007 Report to Congress caused industry to lobby for insertion of language about the need for "industry and EPA [to] work together" to weaken or block "state regulations [that] are hindering progress" for greater use of the coal combustion wastes; and
EPA fact-sheets and PowerPoint presentations were altered at industry urging to delete significant references to certain potential "high risk" uses of coal combustion wastes.
"For most of the past decade, it appears that every EPA publication on the subject was ghostwritten by the American Coal Ash Association," stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, who examined thousands of industry-EPA communications. "In this partnership it is clear that industry is EPA's senior partner.
That was then -- the Bush administration. This is now -- the Obama administration.
Last year, the Obama administration released a previously held Bush administration EPA study on coal ash that demonstrated the clear dangers of coal ash, including cancer. Among many issues, the EPA concluded:
The coal ash threat could linger for 100 years -- Because some of the EPA data go back to the mid-1990s, it is possible that some of the listed dumps are no longer in use. The EPA warns, however, that peak pollution from ash ponds can occur long after the waste is placed and is likely to result in peak exposures about 78 to 105 years after the pond first began operation.
- Higher cancer risk for up to 1 in 50 nearby residents -- The EPA estimates that up to 1 in 50 nearby residents could get cancer from exposure to arsenic leaking into drinking water wells from unlined waste ponds that mix ash with coal refuse. Threats are also posed by high levels of other metals, including boron, selenium and lead.
In a formal complaint lodged yesterday with the EPA, Alabama Hurricane Creekkeeper John Wathen charged the formal agreement with EPA and TVA says no ash can be shipped to any landfill that does not meet compliance standards.
Wathen and Perry County residents called on the EPA "to immediately halt the dredging of the Emory River in Kingston, Tennessee -- and hauling wet TVA coal ash to the Arrowhead Landfill in Perry County, Alabama -- until the landfill comes into full compliance with state and federal laws."
"We therefore respectfully request that EPA order a complete stopping of disaster ash to Perry County until this landfill is in complete compliance as certified by EPA national headquarters," Mr. Wathen writes in the letter.
"EPA Region 4 and ADEM have failed us," he says. "The situation here grows more dire with every rain event. Excessive water in the landfill is causing off-site violations, some intentional it seems."
Here are the photographs from Wathen that show pumps diverting liquid waste off the landfill property into adjoining ditches near residential homes:

"Up to now, both EPA and ADEM are taking the operators word that no violations exist," he says. "I am presenting you now with overwhelming evidence that this landfill is not and has never been in complete compliance since the disaster ash started coming."
Here are some concerned residents:

According to Wathen,"arsenic and other pollutants of concern have been reported to EPA and ADEM, but no action has been taken."
Collection of material in the ditch has rendered two separate arsenic levels that exceed EPA safe drinking water standards, Wathen says, and one value much higher than the water quality criterion for aquatic life.
"While people do not drink from the ditch," he concedes, "it leads through private land where farm animals do drink from the surface water."
Mr. Wathen says EPA and ADEM have produced no reports showing evidence that any oversight has been conducted by the federal and state agencies charged with that by law. There are no reports of agency sampling or toxic releases data for the required inventory.
"I personally informed Mr. John Hagood, interim director ADEM, of these illicit night time discharges but he has chosen not to investigate," Wathen says. "Instead, all the report says is that Mr. Cook, landfill manager denies the claim. No tests, no samples, no interviews of employees or nearby residents effected, just a simple denial by the manager was good enough to refute hundreds of photos, certified lab results, anecdotal stories from the community, or first hand eye witness account by me."
For more information, see: http://creekkeeper.blogspot.com/

Read more

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Hurricane Creekkeeper Says Stop the Emory River Cleanup… Or Bring the Arrowhead Landfill into Compliance















Hurricane Creekkeeper Says Stop the Emory River Cleanup…
Or Bring the Arrowhead Landfill into Compliance

by Glynn Wilson

The Waterkeeper Alliance is asking the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to immediately halt the dredging of the Emory River in Kingston, Tennessee — and hauling wet TVA coal ash to the Arrowhead Landfill in Perry County, Alabama — until the landfill comes into full compliance with state and federal laws.

In a formal complaint lodged today with the EPA, Hurricane Creekkeeper John Wathen says the formal agreement with EPA and TVA says no ash can be shipped to any landfill that does not meet compliance standards.

“We therefore respectfully request that EPA order a complete stopping of disaster ash to Perry County until this landfill is in complete compliance as certified by EPA national headquarters,” Mr. Wathen writes in the letter.

“EPA Region 4 and ADEM have failed us,” he says. “The situation here grows more dire with every rain event. Excessive water in the landfill is causing off-site violations, some intentional it seems.”

Wathen has photographs showing pumps diverting liquid waste off the landfill property into adjoining ditches near residential homes. (One is included below).

“Up to now, both EPA and ADEM are taking the operators word that no violations exist,” he says. “I am presenting you now with overwhelming evidence that this landfill is not and has never been in complete compliance since the disaster ash started coming.”

People throughout the community report nightly pumping of a stinking gray-tannish waste from the landfill.

“I have personally seen it and documented the pumps, the gray sludge leaving the site,” he says, adding that “overwhelming pictorial evidence has been submitted to support the allegation of night pumping at the landfill of wastewater from the landfill into roadside ditches.”

Arsenic and other pollutants of concern have been reported to EPA and ADEM, Wathen says, but no action has been taken.

Collection of material in the ditch has rendered two separate arsenic levels that exceed EPA safe drinking water standards, Wathen says, and one value much higher than the water quality criterion for aquatic life.

“While people do not drink from the ditch,” he concedes, “it leads through private land where farm animals do drink from the surface water.”

Mr. Wathen says EPA and ADEM have produced no reports showing evidence that any oversight has been conducted by the federal and state agencies charged with that by law. There are no reports of agency sampling or toxic releases data for the required inventory.

“I personally informed Mr. John Hagood, interim director ADEM, of these illicit night time discharges but he has chosen not to investigate,” Wathen says. “Instead, all the report says is that Mr. Cook, landfill manager denies the claim. No tests, no samples, no interviews of employees or nearby residents effected, just a simple denial by the manager was good enough to refute hundreds of photos, certified lab results, anecdotal stories from the community, or first hand eye witness account by me.”

Copies of the complaint were sent to the Congressional Sub-Committee on Environment and Public Works and chair Barbara Boxer of California.

In a recent complaint filed by Florida attorney David Ludder, who specializes in environmental law, high levels of arsenic were listed as a concern, but ADEM chose to take no samples for arsenic, Mr. Wathen says.

There are “so sample results available online and ADEM has not provided any information to refute my strikingly high arsenic findings” of 840 miligrams per liter on Feb. 15, 2009, Wathen says. “ADEM has not taken any enforcement action to foster compliance or resolve non-compliance.”

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson could not immediately be reached for comment, although we will follow-up with EPA’s official response when it comes in via e-mail…

John Wathen

Arrowhead Landfill Complaint 02/16/10


-->
To: Lisa Jackson
EPA Headquarters

Please accept the following complaint in respect to PCA Arrowhead Landfill.

Ms. Jackson,
I have written you twice in the past concerning the PCA Arrowhead Landfill in Perry County Alabama. As you are well aware, this site is receiving the disaster coal ash from Kingston Tn. The situation here grows more dire with every rain event. Excessive water in the landfill is causing off-site violations, some intentional it seems.

We have notified EPA Region 4 and ADEM of this situation. Up to now, both EPA and ADEM are taking the operators word that no violations exist. I am presenting you now with overwhelming evidence that this landfill is not and has never been in complete compliance since the disaster ash started coming.

People throughout the community report nightly pumping of stinking gray / tannish waste from the landfill. I have personally seen it and documented the pumps, the gray sludge leaving the site. Arsenic and other pollutants  of concern have been reported to EPA and ADEM to no resolve. To-date, we can find NO reports showing where sampling has been done or toxic releases documented. I personally informed Mr. John Hagood, interim director ADEM of these illicit night time discharges but ADEM has chosen not to investigate. Instead, all the report states that Mr. Cook, landfill manager denies the claim. No tests, no samples, no interviews of employees or nearby residents effected, just a simple denial by the manager was good enough to refute hundreds of photos, certified lab results,  stories from the community, or first hand eye witness account by me.

I anxiously await your response to the complaint found below. It is a large document and will be sent in two parts. In no way should this be considered two separate complaints. Both are a part of a single complaint that will, in my opinion, show non-compliance throughout the entire landfill. According to the agreement with EPA and TVA, no ash can be shipped to any landfill that does not meet compliance standards. We therefore respectfully request that EPA order a complete stopping of disaster ash to {Perry County until this landfill is in complete compliance as certified by EPA national headquarters. EPA Region 4 and ADEM have failed us.

In an inspection report dated 01/06/10, 20 days after a complaint was issued by David Ludder, ADEM inspector James Couch claims to find no violations and notes the presence of only chalk staining on newly installed silt fences.

Two days prior, another ADEM inspector Ms. Janna McIndoe inspected the landfill.  The white staining was observed on the silt fences by Ms. McIndoe on 01/04/10, 18 days after Mr. Ludder’s complaint was filed.  The ADEM report goes on to say that there was staining in the ditches alongside Perry Co. 1.  However, had ADEM conducted a timely follow-up inspection, ADEM would have found that there were NO BMPs installed on December 15, 2009 and several days thereafter.

The facts and allegations surrounding the Mr. Ludder’s December 15, 2009 complaint are very serious.  Alleged discharging of unpermitted coal ash wastewater is a concern warranting ADEM’s immediate attention, yet ADEM waited 18-days to conduct a follow-up inspection. When the inspection was conducted, no significant level of effort was made to interview landfill employees, residents living nearby, or conduct field sampling.  ADEM’s actions on this matter are woefully inadequate. 

The staining in both ADEM reports indicates offsite deposition of landfill material. I find it interesting that neither inspector saw these as violations. I found it just as interesting that even though Mr. Ludder’s complaint stated that Arsenic was a concern ADEM chose to take no samples. No sample results are available online and ADEM has not provided any information to refute my strikingly high arsenic findings (0.840 mg/l, on 12/15/09).

In an ADEM inspection report dated 11/16/09 by Janna McIndoe, she states, “continue to work slope adjacent to active face to prevent water from collecting there.”  Obviously, PCA has taken no such action to prevent water collection or runoff from the active face.  Furthermore, ADEM has not taken any enforcement action to foster compliance or resolve non-compliance.

ADEM’s only effort to investigate illicit night time discharges was to verbally and informally ask Mr. Cook if PCA had initiated such discharges.  ADEM inspectors documented Mr. Cook’s allegation that no ash contact water is being allowed into roadside ditches.  Mr. Cook is not an ADEM inspector.  The investigator should have conducted a thorough inspection without Mr. Cook’s input, collecting independent samples, and reporting what the evidence showed.  ADEM’s report indicates that all of the clear, direct and well documented evidence collected by me and submitted by Mr. Ludder was refuted simply because Mr. Cook said so.

Overwhelming pictorial evidence has been submitted to support the allegation of night pumping at the landfill of wastewater from the landfill into roadside ditches.  Collection of material in the ditch has rendered two separate arsenic levels that exceed EPA safe drinking water standards, and one value much higher than the water quality criterion for aquatic life.  While people do not drink from the ditch, it leads through private land where farm animals do drink from the surface water.  In the report dated 01/06/10, ADEM states… “According to facility personnel rainfall events had caused water to start overtopping the haul road that was constructed of local chalk material.”

If that is the case, then this condition must have also been true on 07/13/09, 12/10/09, 02/03/10, 02/05/10, 02/07/10, and every other time I have been in Perry County over the last 9 months.  The ditches are always tan/gray and, according to residents living there, stinking water flows in local ditches and creeks even when there is no rain.  If the pumps only work to pump storm-water, then why are the roads wet and ditches full of white material during dry periods? 
ADEM seems to think that ‘because Mr. Cook says so’ everything must be OK.  Despite mountains of evidence to support violations and lab results showing toxic levels of Arsenic off-site, ADEM has taken Mr. Cook’s word instead of examining the evidence and conducting the most basic responsible inspection.

On my December 15, 2009 inspection of the landfill, gray water was flowing in the ditch. On entering the landfill, I found a high volume pump, still hot to the touch. The pump discharge hose was pointed over the road toward Co.Rd1, gray, stinking liquid was running down the haul road into Co. 1 ditch. Samples taken from the end of the pipe were as follows... Conductivity 2290 umho/cm, C.O.D. 266.6, NH3N 2.00 mg/l

All this occurred in the evening.  Arsenic was detected at 0.840 mg/l in the surface water in the ditch adjacent to the pumps yet ADEM refused to take samples. Why not?

 According to Mr. Cook, “runoff water that has come in contact with coal ash is being captured by the leachate collection system.”  ALL water in the landfill comes in contact with coal ash.  All of this contact water should be treated before any release.  To date, PCA has discharged massive amounts of potentially contaminated water directly to local streams. ADEM has taken no action to resolve this matter or lessen the potential impacts upon local residents and the environment.
Daytime aerial view of pumping activity


Offsite tracking of material is a daily occurrence.  Leachate, garbage, and many other bulk haulers are entering and leaving the landfill with no precautions taken to insure no offsite tracking occurs.  In Kingston TN, where the disaster ash is being loaded into rail cars, multiple precautions are being taken such as triple washing trucks, trains, and cars leaving the site.  People have to wear protective clothing and remove potentially contaminated items before leaving the site.  In Perry County, an environmental justice community, no precautions whatsoever are being taken to protect the community. 
WHY are the people of TN more important than the people of Perry County?


Now that the landfill operators are being closely watched, they are perhaps minimizing alleged nighttime discharges.  As a result, leachate is collecting at excessive levels, even to the crest of the landfill dike.  The liquid levels actually stand well above the top of the liner and the high water levels seem to be consistent regardless of rain.  It is my understanding the landfill allows a maximum permissible liquid level of only 18 inches above the bottom of the liner. There looks to be at least 20 feet of water standing in existing cells. 
Is recent ground water testing data available?  When was the last round of groundwater monitoring tests?  What do the trends of groundwater contamination show?  Leaking liners will immediately cause significant contamination of ground water.  EPA should, at once, begin a regiment of testing both on site groundwater and off-site groundwater locations through the community down grade from the landfill on all sides.

On 07/09/09, PCA submitted a letter to ADEM stating that tarps are not needed due to moisture.  I would agree, but I also see where the excess moisture and trucks hauling contaminated material are overloaded and spilling all along the road. This means that the haul road itself is now contaminated and all storm water leaving the haul road should be treated as potentially toxic. No BMPs are visible along any stretch of the haul road.  Thus, it is evident (even in the absence of night time discharging) that contaminated storm water is allowed to flow to Tayloe Creek untreated.  We are in a wet season now. In the coming months, the rain will subside and all of this mud will become airborne dust. NO TARPS ARE SEEN ON ANY DUMP TRUCK WORKING TODAY. ALL WERE OVERLOADED AND SPILLING ASH.
 
View from Booker Gipson's front yard

The train unloading facility is a disaster in progress.  Ash laden train cars are pulled in and unloaded by two track-hoes that are sitting on pads constructed of ash.  These machines are located directly on top of the culvert leading to Tayloe Creek with failing or nonexistent BMPs.  Once the bulk of the ash is removed, the cars then switch tracks for final cleaning and washing before returning to Kingston.  In this process, PCA is washing untold tonnage of ash-contaminated mud into the drainage basin of Tayloe Creek.  Past photos have shown that no BMPs existed until the recent inspection.  On 07/13/09 there were NO BMPs visible.  On 12/10/09 no BMPs visible.  On 02/03/10, after the recent inspection BMPs are visible standing under several feet of sludge.  On 02/07/10 the same scenario exists.

In one photo, I count 7 high pressure hoses all washing ash contaminated material into Tayloe Creek via drainage ditch with massive failures of BMPs.



At the point of discharge (POD) into Tayloe Creek, PCA has constructed a dam of riprap in the streambed and is using the stream as a treatment facility. This is prohibited by both USACE and EPA regulations.  The dam is and has been obvious for some time now.  How did EPA and ADEM miss this? (See PDF Arrowhead Landfill loadout)

I can find no USACE permit on file for this facility.  The entire headwaters to Tayloe Creek lie, for the most part, in the landfill permitted area.  Multiple streams in the headwaters are slated to be destroyed and buried under ash / garbage.  Is there a USACE permit for this damage and where can I view it?

The issues I have noted cover a period from July 2009 to Feb 2010.  In all incidences, multiple violations have existed month after month with no ADEM action to cease active violations or prevent future violations.  In spite of notable evidence, follow-up inspections by ADEM and EPA have failed to identify a violation.  This leads me to believe that EPA and ADEM have NOT performed a thorough inspection of the entire facility in its history of existence. 

According to the disaster ash acceptance agreement, no ash may be shipped to a facility that does not meet federal and state regulations.  This facility has demonstrated from the beginning that it cannot comply.

We therefore strenuously reiterate our request for intervention by EPA headquarters in this matter and request a full accounting be provided. No further shipments of Kingston disaster ash can be sent to a failing landfill.

The illicit actions in Perry County are connected to the most significant environmental disaster in U.S. history.  As such, the attention of congress and national media remain warranted.  By notice of this letter, I am also informing the U.S Congressional Sub-committee Environment and Public Works, the Honorable Barbarah Boxer, CNN, CBS and other media outlets of this assault on the wildlife and human residents of Perry County. 

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

A bunch of ash-holes

Posted on January 8th, 2010 in Green Space

A bunch of ash-holes

By Madison Underwood
I firmly believe that the TVA, ADEM, EPA and Perry County Commission have teamed up to present a willful campaign of misinformation designed to facilitate the placement of this toxic mess in an environmental justice community where they thought the people were either too dumb or too poor to protest loudly,” Hurricane Creekkeeper John L. Wathen wrote in a Tuscaloosa News editorial published Sunday, Jan. 3. The “toxic mess” he’s referring to is coal ash from a Kingston, Tenn., plant that had a dam failure on Dec. 22, 2008, causing more than a million cubic yards of ash to flood into the Emory River. The “community” Wathen refers to is Uniontown, in Perry County, Ala., which is where the coal ash is being shipped for disposal in a landfill.
Wathen’s account of the aftermath of the Kingston disaster and the effects the ash is having on the mostly black, mostly poor Black Belt town it’s being stored in is a stunning portrayal of our government’s failure to respond adequately or transparently to an environmental disaster of catastrophic proportions.
Within days of the disaster, while the Tennessee Valley Authority was assuring folks that the ash posed no threat, Wathen says he and several fellow riverkeepers floated the Emory River to take samples of the ash. On the river Wathen encountered mounds of ash (cleverly, he called them “ash-bergs”) as tall as a house sitting in the riverbed. The samples Wathen took revealed that water at the site were “found to contain about 300 times the allowable limits of arsenic.”
Wathen documents many trips he’s taken to the Uniontown landfill where the ash is collected, and the samples he’s taken around the open sewer lagoon in Marion that houses the wastewater leachate (which is transported to Marion after being collected from the ash at the landfill). He found abnormally high levels of ammonia and arsenic in the water, and a pungent stench that caused headaches, nausea and vomiting among those accompanying Wathen.
“It became apparent that the Marion Lagoon was failing in a huge way,” Wathen wrote.
His story continues in great detail, and includes surveys as recent as December. Without risking cribbing too much from the editorial, we urge you to check out the story online here.

Perry County residents voice concerns about coal ash storage

Perry County residents voice concerns about coal ash storage
perry county map 100x100 Perry County residents voice concerns about coal ash storageMs. Ruby’s smile is infectious, but it is tinged with concern. At 80, she has lived in Perry County, Ala., all her life. But what has happened there these past few months has made her fear for her health.
“You might have seen my picture in the paper,” she smiles at the video camera. John L. Wathen, a.k.a. Hurricane Creekkeeper, is shooting the video to capture community reaction to local government’s decision to store toxic coal ash in the nearby Arrowhead Landfill. That is recovered from the Emory River where more than a billion gallons of the toxic material spilled in December 2008 from a Tennessee Valley Authority () coal-firing plant in east .
As part of a years-long, billion-dollar cleanup of the area, the is hauling truckloads of the recovered from the river to the landfill in Perry County, an impoverished and historically black community in rural Alabama.
Local government calls the deal a “boon to the community.” It is expected to bring more than $3 million in “host fees” plus generate a few dozen jobs. Locals worry that they will have to shoulder the burden while city and county officials rake in the benefits.
“Sometimes at night when I’m in my bed I have my window cracked a little bit for some fresh air to keep from running the fan. I pick up this odor,” Ms. Ruby says. “I really don’ t want to say what it smell like. Some kind of gas. And it’s a bad scent … It wakes me up and it gets all through my house.
“I am concerned about my health. I’m breathing this stuff.”
Ms. Ruby and her neighbors worry their concerns are falling on deaf ears. But they aren’t the only ones who fear their health is in jeopardy. The recovered from is being dumped into the Arrowhead Landfill and combined with household garbage. The liquid that drains from that landfill, also known as leachate, is trucked to nearby Marion, where it is then dumped into an open sewer lagoon and combined with sewage.
“The stench is horrible,” Wathen points out in his video. “Citizens nearby both locations fear for their health and safety.”
Watch Ms. Ruby’s and residents’ reactions.



Saturday, February 6, 2010

TVA Coal Ash Cleanup Hits Snag in Alabama

The Tennessee Valley Authority’s massive cleanup of a coal ash spill from last Christmas at the coal-fired power plant in Kingston, Tennessee, “has hit a snag 500 miles away, just before the treated
wastewater reaches Mobile Bay,” according to the Associated Press.

(Photo by John L. Wathen, Flight provided by SouthWings)
A wastewater processing company in Mobile, Alabama, called Liquid Environmental Solutions, said Friday it would stop accepting shipments of wastewater runoff from the Perry County landfill that is accepting the coal ash, which is laced with arsenic, mercury, lead, uranium and other heavy metals and toxic substances.
In a statement, the Dallas-based Liquid Environmental Solution’s senior vice president, Dana King, said the shipments have been stopped “due to local concerns” because “some people are up in arms” even though the company has “properly accepted, tested and treated the non-hazardous Perry County landfill wastewater.”

Many of the substances in the waste are considered hazardous and cancer-causing agents individually, but due to the complicated federal regulatory scheme, they are not classified as “hazardous waste” under the law as it now stands.
“In support of our commitment to work with community leaders, we have decided we will no longer be accepting this wastewater,” King said.
After being treated, the wastewater was being routed through the Mobile Area Water and Sewer System and discharged into Mobile Bay.
The president of landfill co-owner Phill-Con Services, Eddie Dorsett, which recently declared bankruptcy to avoid a pending lawsuit, did not return calls or e-mails for comment.

About 5.4 million cubic yards of coal ash laced with arsenic and potentially toxic substances spilled out of a holding pond at the TVA plant on Dec. 22, 2008, totally filling up a six mile stretch of the Emory River in East Tennessee. A dredging operation began there last March 20 to begin a massive cleanup that could take more than five years. The ash is being loaded onto train cars, up to 110 a day, and shipped through downtown Birmingham to the landfill in Uniontown, a poor community in Alabama’s Black Belt.
It was not immediately known if the decision might affect the pace of removing the spilled coal ash.
(Photo by John L. Wathen, Kingston Tn. 12/29/08)


The landfill earlier was sending the landfill runoff water, officially termed leachate, to the Marion, Alabama, wastewater treatment plant, where it was discharged into a lagoon. The Environmental Protection Agency, acting on concerns of residents in that community, suggested that the leachate be taken elsewhere.

(Photo by John L. Wathen, Flight provided by SouthWings)
David Ludder, a Tallahassee, Florida attorney specializing in environmental law, has filed a notice of intent to sue the operators of the treatment plant on behalf of local residents.
The other landfill co-owner, disaster recovery specialist Phillips and Jordan of Knoxville, has a $95 million contract with TVA to dispose of the coal ash. Telephone calls to Phillips and Jordan late Friday were not answered.


TVA spokeswoman Barbara Martocci said the decision by Liquid Environmental Solutions to stop accepting the wastewater is “something that will have to be worked out between Phillips and Jordan and that company. What we’ll do is work with Phillips and Jordan according to the contract we have in place.”
Related Coverage
Another Lawsuit Threat Faces Arrowhead Landfill
Perry County’s Arrowhead Landfill Going Bankrupt?
A Call for EPA Takeover of Alabama’s Water Program
Coal Ash Spill Anniversary as Forgotten as Disaster Itself
TVA Dumps Toxic Coal Ash in Poor Alabama Town
TVA to Begin Coal Ash Spill Cleanup March 20

The Lonley Toxic Leachate

This is becoming quite the saga..."the lonely toxic leachate without a home...". Reminds me of the infamous garbage barge of the 1980s that circled the globe...only to come back to staten island for disposal.

Everything ADEM and PCA (et al) touch on this thing gets more & more discombobulated. Gotta love it. They are digging deeper and deeper and can't get out. Haaaa!

I bet LES had them over a barrel and, to truly treat it correctly...considering the impeding scrutiny we were planning for them, the premium just went up SIGNIFICANTLY.

My goodness, the Water Div folks must be sick over this news.

Pleasant dreams...

Coal Ash: 130 Million Tons of Waste

60 Minutes Investigates a Potentially Harmful Waste Byproduct that Inundated a Tenn. Town

 

  • Play CBS Video Video Coal Ash: 130M Tons of Waste If coal ash is safe to spread under a golf course or be used in carpets, why are the residents a Tenn. town being told to stay out of a river where the material was spilled? Lesley Stahl reports.
  • The town of Kingston, Tenn. was flooded with coal ash when a a giant retention pool containing the substance buckled in December 2008. The town of Kingston, Tenn. was flooded with coal ash when a a giant retention pool containing the substance buckled in December 2008.  (CBS)
  • Interactive Energy Ed. A look at our sources of energy and how we use them to live and work.

    (CBS)  We burn so much coal in this country for electricity that every year that process generates 130 million tons of waste. Most of it is coal ash, and it contains some nasty stuff. Environmental scientists tell us that the concentrations of mercury, arsenic, lead and other toxic metals are considerably higher in coal ash than in ordinary soil.

    When coal ash is disposed of in dry, lined impoundments it is said to be safe. But it's often dumped into wet ponds - there are nearly 500 of them across the country - and in those cases the ash could pose health risks to the nearby communities.

    Jim Roewer, one of the top lobbyists for the power industry, told 60 Minutes correspondent Lesley Stahl that nearly half of the electricity in the United States is generated by coal.

    "Coal's gonna be around for a long time," he said.

    "We really can't get rid of coal," Stahl remarked.

    "We shouldn't get rid of coal," Roewer said.

    "Well, should or shouldn't, we can't. And coal makes waste. Would you say that the industry has done a good job of disposing of the coal ash waste?" Stahl asked.

    "We can do better," Roewer said.

    Asked if that means no, Roewer told Stahl, "Well, we had a Kingston spill."

    That's Kingston, Tenn., where last December a giant retention pool of coal ash buckled under the weight of five decades of waste.

    A billion gallons of muck shot into the Emory River like a black tsunami, engulfing homes, uprooting trees, and throwing fish out of the water.

    Residents woke up to an apocalyptic moonscape of "ashbergs" everywhere. The spill was 100 times larger than the Exxon Valdez and it was all coal ash.



    Stahl had never heard of coal ash before the Kingston incident.

    "Wasn't a problem," Roewer remarked.

    "Well, it was a problem, we just didn't know," Stahl replied.

    The problem is: where do you put all that stuff? The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) dumped up to 1,000 tons of coal ash every day into a wet pond near the plant, slowly amassing a waste-cake 60 feet high. Some of the ingredients, according to the EPA, were arsenic, lead, mercury, selenium, cadmium and other toxic metals.

    "You know, some people say that this is a poisoned meadow," Stahl said to Leo Francendese, an environmental "Mr. Fix It,” sent by the EPA to clean up this mess.

    "In the wrong circumstances coal ash is dangerous. Breathing it, that's dangerous," Francendese replied.

    The summer heat can bake the ash into a fine talc-like powder that can wreak havoc on your lungs.

    So while the government has never formally labeled coal ash a hazardous waste, it's being treated as such at the Kingston site.

    As the 60 Minutes team left the site, they were scrubbed clean, as was their car.

    Francendese explained that every vehicle that exits the site must go through the cleaning process.

    Gary Topmiller lives right on the river. He had a front row seat when the spill covered his dock.

    "Now what the doctors did tell me was, 'Get out of there.' And I said, 'I don't have any place to go,'" Topmiller told Stahl.

(CBS)  Asked how he lives now and whether he goes out on the water, Topmiller said, "No. We don't go out of the house."

From the house, he sees scientists collecting samples to analyze just how bad the water is. The river looks clear, but Topmiller says it's deceptive.

He shows Stahl a water sample he collected himself in a jar. "Turn it upside down and start shakin’ it. And this is what the river looks like once it - once that stuff gets suspended in it," Topmiller said. As Stahl shakes the jar gray muck inside clouds the seemingly clear water. "And how they're gonna get that all out of the river, I don't have an idea."

Most of his neighbors have packed up and left. Go down the river and you pass home after home that are deserted, the hubbub of children replaced by the hum of heavy machinery.

Those left behind say the noise is one thing: what really infuriates them is executives from the power plant telling them that coal ash is as safe as dirt.

"We have broken the trust," Anda Ray said.

Ray oversees environmental policy at the Tennessee Valley Authority, which is responsible for the spill. Stahl asked her how toxic she thinks coal ash is.

"I'd say that the constituents, the things that are in the coal ash, are the same things that are naturally occurring in soil and rock," Ray replied.

"So, is it like dirt? Would you say that? Would you say that sentence? That stuff is like dirt," Stahl asked.

"That ash material is higher than dirt in two areas. And that is arsenic and thallium. And we are monitoring those and the effect on the water," Ray said.

Asked if she would swim in the river now, Ray told Stahl, "Yes, I would."

She later retracted, remembering there’s an advisory against it. "We've advised people not to swim in the river where there's ash."


Stahl then asked about company reports repeatedly questioning the stability of the ash ponds.

"Should the TVA have seen this coming?" Stahl asked. "You were warned repeatedly."

"Lesley, there were red flags that have been noticed all through the years. And we recognize that those red flags should've been addressed. But yes, we missed them, and we don't ever want to miss them again," Ray replied.

The spilled ash is now being loaded onto trains and sent off to a dry landfill in Alabama. Right now, coal ash disposal is regulated by the states, some of which have strict rules, some hardly any at all.





 
If this is a dry landfill, where did all the water come from?
Why are there 4 hugh volume pumps in this one photo? 
(JLW)
The new head of the EPA, Lisa Jackson, is reviewing whether the federal government should get involved by labeling coal ash a "hazardous waste," which would mean much tighter regulations and oversight.

"Why wouldn't you right now, this minute, on 60 Minutes, declare that coal ash is a hazardous waste?" Stahl asked.

"EPA, in making a regulatory determination, has to look at a number of factors, including the toxicity of the material and how it's currently managed, but that's done according to law. And I have committed that no later than December, we will make a regulatory proposal with respect to this material," Jackson explained.

The industry opposes calling coal ash a hazardous waste. They're pushing for another solution: recycling.

(CBS)  Ted Yoakam, a lawyer in Virginia, says recycling can breed its own disaster. He says that in 2002, the state's power company, Dominion, got rid of some of its excess coal ash by giving it to a golf course in Chesapeake.

"How many tons of coal ash, do you know, did they use to build this golf course?" Stahl asked.

"We know that they put at least 1.5 million tons," Yoakam said.

In a videotaped city council meeting, a consultant hired by the company that built the golf course assured the mayor that coal ash was safe for reuse.

"In every aspect it's the same as dirt, as it's been explained to me. I'm not aware of any negative aspects of it at all," the consultant explained.

The mayor then turned to a Dominion executive.

Asked if there are any environmental concerns, the executive told the mayor, "No, sir. We at Dominion Power are fully in compliance with all the federal and state regulations."

Two years later, an internal company study about handling the ash for the golf course recommended that workers use "impervious gloves" and "particulate-filtering respirators" due to "potential health...risks."

Robyn Pierce and her neighbor Stacy Moorman live across the street from the golf course.

"It was said that they were told respirators and body suits. Nobody came up and down either one of these two streets and handed out wardrobe for us," Pierce said.

"But our children were out there," Moorman remarked.

"Our children were out there playing in the yard breathing this stuff. How does this happen?" Pierce asked.

Also, Dominion's internal risk assessment warned of the dangers of coal ash leaching into the water supply. To prevent that, the contractor who built the golf course was supposed to build a two-foot barrier under the coal ash, and one 18 inches on top.

The contractor's engineer certified this was done. But attorney Ted Yoakam, who represents townspeople who are suing Dominion, suspects it wasn’t.

"Yes. As you can see right here, it's right at the surface," Yoakam said, pointing out to little mounds of coal ash on the surface of the grass. "Insects have pulled it up. You can see how it flies away."

Last year, the city dug into the golf course, did a test and found elevated levels of toxic metals in the water.

"With all the knowledge that Dominion had about the coal ash and the lead and the arsenic and beryllium and all the poison to put it in this environment, it's just an outrage," Yoakam said.

That water test was just for the golf course; Dominion told 60 Minutes EPA testing "shows no harm to residential wells" around the golf course.

In reply to that argument, Stacy Moorman says: "I invite anybody from the companies who have put it over there to come to my house and have dinner. And I will use that tap water."

Moorman and her neighbors think it's too risky to drink the water. So, after Dominion refused to provide them with bottled water, they began trudging to a local church, where the city pipes in guaranteed clean water.

Dominion declined to give 60 Minutes an interview, but most power companies rely on recycling because it cuts the 130 million tons of coal waste every year in half. The industry calls recycling "beneficial use."

"Ugh! Don't even… The only people it was beneficial for were for those utility companies that had to get that stuff off their hands because they were already in violation with stockpiling too much. That is what 'beneficial use' meant," Robyn Pierce said.

But the EPA in the Bush administration endorsed beneficial use and now coal ash is recycled in dozens of ways: as cement substitute, it's also placed under roads and in deserted mines and it's added to products from carpets to bowling balls to bathroom sinks.

(CBS)  While the industry says the uses have been studied, Stahl asked Lisa Jackson whether the EPA knows if some of the recycled products are safe.

"Schoolroom carpeting," Stahl asked.

"I don't know. I have no data that says that's safe at this point," Jackson replied.

"Kitchen counters," Stahl asked.

"The same," Jackson replied.

"Fifty thousand tons of coal ash byproducts have been used in agriculture. What's being done through EPA to look at the use of coal ash in agricultural products? Anything? Is there a study?" Stahl asked.

"I'm not sure that there's any study out there right now," Jackson said.

"How did we get to a place where coal ash is in products without anybody knowing?" Stahl asked.

"We're here, now, because coal ash at this time isn't a regulated material by the federal government," Jackson replied.

If the EPA declares coal ash a hazardous waste, lobbyist Jim Roewer says "beneficial use" would die and the cost of disposal would skyrocket.

"We look at that and we’re looking at something on the order of 12 to 13 billion," he explained.

"And who'd pay for that?" Stahl asked. "We know. The customers."

"Environmental protection doesn't come cheap," Roewer replied.

He says the current state-by-state regulatory system may not be perfect, but it works.

"Could you say right now that the disposal in all the coal ash plants today are safe, and that they're all doing a proper job?" Stahl asked.

"All I can guarantee is that they're going [to] do their best to manage coal ash safely so that you don't have a release like Kingston," Roewer replied.

Asked if all these plants are safe, Roewer said, "That's what the state regulations are all about to insure the safe management of coal ash."

"But you're not saying they are safe. You're playing word games with me. You're not saying, 'They are safe,'" Stahl said.

"You want me to guarantee that…they're absolutely safe," Roewer asked.

"I think everybody…yes, I do," Stahl replied.

"Well, what I can say is the state regulations and the utility management practices are put in place to ensure with a goal of safe management of coal ash," Roewer said.

"I don't think many people really trust the utility industry, I'm sorry to tell you," Stahl remarked.

Roewer's reply? "You're not the first one to tell me that."





 

Plant in Alabama stops taking coal ash drainage

By BILL POOVEY
Associated Press Writer

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) - The Tennessee Valley Authority's cleanup of a December 2008 coal ash spill at its Kingston plant has hit a snag 500 miles away, just before the treated wastewater reaches Mobile Bay.
A wastewater processing company in Mobile, Ala., Liquid Environmental Solutions, Friday stopped accepting shipments of runoff wastewater from an Alabama landfill that is receiving the coal ash laced with arsenic, mercury and some other heavy metals.
The Dallas-based company's senior vice president, Dana King, said in a statement that the shipments have been stopped due to local concerns even though the company has "properly accepted, tested and treated the non-hazardous Perry County landfill wastewater."
King said the company recently started accepting shipments of the wastewater and were treating it but "some people are up in arms."
King added that "in support of our commitment to work with community leaders, we have decided we will no longer be accepting this wastewater." After being treated by the company, the wastewater then was routed through the Mobile Area Water and Sewer System and discharged into Mobile Bay.
The president of landfill co-owner Phill-Con Services, Eddie Dorsett, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
About 5.4 million cubic yards of coal ash laced with arsenic and potentially toxic substances spilled out of a holding pond at the TVA plant on Dec. 22, 2008. Ash that spilled into Emory River is being dredged and shipped by railroad to the Alabama landfill.
TVA has been shipping the coal ash to the Arrowhead Landfill in Perry County, Ala., using up to 110 rail cars daily.
It was not immediately known if the decision might affect the pace of removing the spilled coal ash.
The landfill earlier was sending the landfill runoff water, officially termed leachate, to the Marion, Ala., wastewater treatment plant, where it was discharged into a creek. The Environmental Protection Agency, acting on concerns of residents in that community, suggested that the leachate be taken elsewhere.
A Tallahassee, Fla., environmental lawyer, David Ludder, has filed a notice of intent to sue the operators of the treatment plant on behalf of local residents.
The other landfill co-owner, disaster recovery specialist Phillips & Jordan of Knoxville, has a $95 million contract with TVA to dispose of the ash. Telephone calls to Phillips & Jordan late Friday were not answered.
TVA spokeswoman Barbara Martocci said the decision by Liquid Environmental Solutions to stop accepting the wastewater is "something that will have to be worked out between Phillips & Jordan and that company."
"What we'll do is work with Phillips & Jordan according to the contract we have in place," she said.
Mobile wastewater system spokeswoman Barbara Shaw said Thursday that Liquid Environmental Solutions specializes in removing industrial waste and has been a system customer for about 10 years.

Coal ash disposal becomes burning issue for Alabama

Sunday, January 04, 2009
THOMAS SPENCER
News staff writer
Over the course of a year, Alabama Power's immense Miller Steam Plant in northwest Jefferson County burns 12.5 million tons of coal, generating enough power to light more than 800,000 homes.
That coal, brought in daily from Wyoming by the trainload, doesn't just disappear in combustion. Each day, Alabama Power collects the 1,200 tons of ash, a residue containing a toxic concoction of arsenic, mercury and other heavy metals.
About 60 percent of that ash is sold and trucked away for use in construction materials, Alabama Power said. The rest is stacked in a vast, terraced landfill or is mixed with water and piped into a 77-acre pond designed to allow the contaminants to sink to the bottom.
Neither landfill nor pond is lined to prevent seepage into the ground.
For decades at the Miller Plant and eight similar sites at coal-fired power plants in Alabama, the process has gone on with little public notice.
But the Dec. 22 collapse of a dike at an ash pond at the

Photo by John L. Wathen
Flight provided by SouthWings

 Tennessee Valley Authority's Kingston Fossil Plant, about 35 miles west of Knoxville, has opened debate on how utilities handle the huge volume of toxin-laden coal ash captured by their power plants' pollution-control devices.
The TVA spill sent more than 1 billion gallons of coal ash cascading through the countryside, wrecking homes, covering streets and burying more than 300 acres in a gray sludge. It spawned worries about potential contamination of drinking water and questions about how to clean up the damage. And it has renewed calls from environmentalists for regulation of ash disposal.
Though the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has been considering the issue for years, it never has enacted guidelines for dealing with the ash waste, which is packed with health hazards such as arsenic and cadmium, known to cause cancer, and lead and mercury, which can damage the nervous system.

Plant in Alabama stops taking coal ash drainage

2/5/2010, 6:05 p.m. CST
BILL POOVEY
The Associated Press
 
(AP) — CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. - The Tennessee Valley Authority's cleanup of a December 2008 coal ash spill at its Kingston plant has hit a snag 500 miles away, just before the treated wastewater reaches Mobile Bay.
A wastewater processing company in Mobile, Ala., Liquid Environmental Solutions, Friday stopped accepting shipments of runoff wastewater from an Alabama landfill that is receiving the coal ash laced with arsenic, mercury and some other heavy metals.
The Dallas-based company's senior vice president, Dana King, said in a statement that the shipments have been stopped due to local concerns even though the company has "properly accepted, tested and treated the non-hazardous Perry County landfill wastewater."
King said the company recently started accepting shipments of the wastewater and were treating it but "some people are up in arms."
King added that "in support of our commitment to work with community leaders, we have decided we will no longer be accepting this wastewater." After being treated by the company, the wastewater then was routed through the Mobile Area Water and Sewer System and discharged into Mobile Bay.

The president of landfill co-owner Phill-Con Services, Eddie Dorsett, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

About 5.4 million cubic yards of coal ash laced with arsenic and potentially toxic substances spilled out of a holding pond at the TVA plant on Dec. 22, 2008. Ash that spilled into Emory River is being dredged and shipped by railroad to the Alabama landfill. TVA has been shipping the coal ash to the Arrowhead Landfill in Perry County, Ala., using up to 110 rail cars daily.
It was not immediately known if the decision might affect the pace of removing the spilled coal ash.
The landfill earlier was sending the landfill runoff water, officially termed leachate, to the Marion, Ala., wastewater treatment plant, where it was discharged into a creek. The Environmental Protection Agency, acting on concerns of residents in that community, suggested that the leachate be taken elsewhere.
A Tallahassee, Fla., environmental lawyer, David Ludder, has filed a notice of intent to sue the operators of the treatment plant on behalf of local residents.
The other landfill co-owner, disaster recovery specialist Phillips & Jordan of Knoxville, has a $95 million contract with TVA to dispose of the ash. Telephone calls to Phillips & Jordan late Friday were not answered.
TVA spokeswoman Barbara Martocci said the decision by Liquid Environmental Solutions to stop accepting the wastewater is "something that will have to be worked out between Phillips & Jordan and that company."
"What we'll do is work with Phillips & Jordan according to the contract we have in place," she said.
Mobile wastewater system spokeswoman Barbara Shaw said Thursday that Liquid Environmental Solutions specializes in removing industrial waste and has been a system customer for about 10 years.

Mobile facility stops taking ash waste liquid from Perry County landfill

Mobile facility stops taking ash waste liquid from Perry County landfill

By Ben Raines

February 05, 2010, 5:44PM



This photo provided by the Tennessee Valley Authority on Monday, Sept. 14, 2009, shows continuing coal ash recovery efforts from a massive spill in December 2008 at the Kingston Fossil Plant in Kingston, Tenn. A company in Mobile, Ala., said Friday, Feb. 5, 2010, that it would no longer accept liquid waste from the Perry County landfill, which has been accepting some of the waste generated as part of the ash spill cleanup.

MOBILE, Ala. -- Liquid Environmental Solutions announced this afternoon that the company will no longer accept shipments of waste liquids from the Perry County landfill, where the waste was generated as part of the Tennessee Valley Authority's cleanup of a massive 2008 coal ash spill.
    
"While Liquid Environmental Solutions properly accepted, tested and treated the non-hazardous Perry County landfill wastewater, we have decided to stop accepting it," the company said in a statement on its Web site.

"We take our responsibility of corporate citizenship in Mobile very seriously and want to diligently work with the community to ensure local concerns are adequately addressed."

The company had accepted 5 shipments of arsenic and heavy metal-laced leachate -- the liquids that collect in the bottom of a landfill. The Perry County landfill is accepting about 100 rail cars a day containing coal ash spilled after an accident at a Tennessee Valley Authority power plant.

Alabama Department of Environmental Management officials had said the Mobile facility, which accepted its last shipment Jan. 27, was the only one in the state clearly permitted to accept the leachate. It is unclear what will happen with the material now.

Neither the Alabama Department of Environmental Management nor the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency could say how many gallons of leachate are being sucked out of the Perry County landfill each day, and where those gallons are going.

The arrangement to ship leachate to Mobile was made after a lawsuit was filed in the fall regarding shipments to the city of Marion wastewater plant. EPA officials suggested the material be sent elsewhere at that time, according to agency officials.

(For a complete report, read Saturday's Press-Register.)