DEP Analysis Concludes No Radioactivity Danger in Tenmile Creek

An extensive six-month investigation by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has concluded that there is no indication of any elevated radioactivity in Tenmile Creek in Greene County. The latest DEP study was conducted after concerns were raised about the results of a set of surface water samples taken in the spring of 2014.

DEP’s Bureaus of Radiation Protection and District Mining Operations conducted comprehensive sampling at the same 3 locations where the earlier samples were taken at the Clyde Mine Treatment Facility (CMTF) near Clarksville, Greene County. Additionally, samples were taken at 9 other locations both upstream and downstream of the CMTF. Surface water samples were taken along with samples of sediment, sludge, soil, aquatic vegetation, and fish.

“Our goal was to get a complete picture of any possible radiological contamination,” said John Stefanko, DEP Executive Deputy Secretary for Programs. “The original 2014 samples used a basic methodology that provides a limited sensitivity for naturally occurring radioactive materials. The 2015 samples were analyzed using U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved methodologies for determining radium-226 and radium-228 in water, plants, soil, or fish. The 2015 water samples were taken when the average daily stream flows within the watershed were at near normal flow conditions.”

All water samples were below the EPA drinking water limit of 5 picocuries per liter(pC/L) for radium-226 and radium-228. DEP did not find any indication of accumulated radiation in the sediment, plants, or fish.

One sample, of treatment sludge in a tank at the CMTF, indicated a radioactivity level for radium-228 at 19.539 pCi/L, which is not a level of concern but was a point of interest for DEP. DEP’s Bureau of Mining Programs staff determined that because the treatment facility uses a high-density sludge which recirculates treatment sludge to remove contaminants from water, the radium values would be concentrated. Water exiting the CMTF did not contain a radium level above typical background radiation readings. Although the Department does not believe the radium-228 level is cause for concern, as a matter of public interest it will periodically resample and analyze the CMTF sludge in 2016.

A set of non-radiological water samples was taken simultaneously with the radiological samples to characterize the water flowing into the creek from the CMTF. DEP’s Bureau of Mining Programs staff analyzed the sample results and concluded that the flow of raw and treated mine water was typical mine drainage, consistent with what would originate from a flooded underground coal mine in Southwestern Pennsylvania.

“Ultimately, there were no surprises in the environmental samples we took,” said Stefanko. “The radiological results were in line with expected background radiation readings. The non-radiological samples were consistent with what we regularly see in flooded underground mines in this region.”

Original release

Community Connections to Our Watershed – Marcellus Shale

Community Connections to Our Watershed –  Pennsylvania DCNR Program

The program brings “Real world experiences bridge the gap between classroom “knowing” and community “doing””. PA Land Choices has been developed to provide participants with a basic understanding of community government and the powerful role of citizens who work toward common goals. The engaging activities in the manual provide opportunities to work collectively in teams, gaining knowledge and skills that will be useful for a lifetime. Workshops involve professional planners and other experts to help participants create, sustain and protect the special character or their neighborhoods. It is a lesson on citizenship and the democratic process practiced at one of the most important levels…right in your home town.

The Keystone Clean Water Team (that is correct) – The name change is official with the IRS– was happy to assist this program with an education and outreach program related to energy use, types of energy sources, need for a national energy policy and community approach, and the facts about Marcellus Shale Development.  We talked about baseline testing, pre-existing problems, how wells can be impacted, how to understand and manage risk and much more – All Fact Based.   After the education program, the students toured a natural gas drilling site.  The tour guide was Mr. Bill Desrosier from Cabot Oil and Gas.

Volunteer

We seek new people at all skill levels for a variety of programs. One thing that everyone can do is attend meetings to share ideas on improving CCGG, enabling us to better understand and address the concerns of well owners.  We look for people that can forward solid articles, help coordinate local education efforts, and more.  Become part of the Keystone Clean Water Team!.

Everything we do began with an idea.

We realize your time is precious and the world is hectic. CCGG’s volunteers do only what they’re comfortable with. It can be a little or a lot.  Get YOUR WATER Tested – Discounted Screening Tests !

For more information, please go to CCGG’s About Page or contact us.

Carbon County Groundwater Guardians is a 501(c)(3) IRS approved nonprofit, volunteer organization and your donation is tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.  Waiting on Official Name change to the Keystone Clean Water Team by the IRS.  Unsolicited donations are appreciated (Helps us complete our mission).

Help the Organization and Get Your Water Tested or Order the Private Well Owner Guide (proceeds benefit This Organization).

Energy Conservation and Energy Audits

We have been in this heated discussion over the use of fossil fuels and natural gas and the need to switch to renewable energy options.    The main problem with the individuals leading this decision is that the approach is wrong.   We need to first talk about energy conservation.   We waste nearly 58% of the energy that we produce.  Now, I agree much of this energy is lot in the form of heat, but it is still energy that we should be able a way to figure out how best to use.  To some individuals this may seem like a relatively ok number, but I will put it another way we produce enough energy in the United States to power 2 Countries.  Is it sinking in yet?

What we need

1. Taking a very hard look at energy efficient and using energy wisely.  In the home, get a home energy audit.  If you are looking for a business or career, start an energy audit or weatherization business or green building design/analyst.

2. Stop wasting energy – purchase energy efficient products “Energy Star” etc and unplug items when not in use.

3. Do a self energy audit and maybe

a. Change to More Efficient Light Bulbs
b. Install a programmable Thermostat
c. Install Ceiling Fans
d. Maximize the use of landscaping.
e. Use a Microwave over an oven
f. Clean Filters
g. Clean Ducts and Fix Leaks
h. Insulate / Seal Window
i. Conserve Water

4. All energy solutions should be on the table, but if you can afford -you may want to consider the use of a ground source heating and cooling system, biomass (switchgrass, waste wood, pellet stoves, outdoor wood stoves)on-demand hotwater heater, and maybe solar water heating system.

5. Other options are also available that may work for you and your family.  Look at the options from your energy supplier.

We all need to be part of the solution !

Recent Presentation to Teens In the Wilkes Barre Area.

Sponsor – Renewable Energy Products and Information

Note:  Carbon County Groundwater Guardians is not for or against natural gas drilling. We are for the facts, making good decisions, and helping to inform the public on all sides of this issue.

 

Volunteer

 

We seek new people at all skill levels for a variety of programs. One thing that everyone can do is attend meetings to share ideas on improving CCGG, enabling us to better understand and address the concerns of well owners.

 

Everything we do began with an idea.

 

We realize your time is precious and the world is hectic. CCGG’s volunteers do only what they’re comfortable with. It can be a little or a lot.

 

For more information, please go to CCGG’s About Page or contact us.

 

Carbon County Groundwater Guardians is a 501(c)(3) IRS approved nonprofit, volunteer organization and your donation is tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.  Unsolicited donations are appreciated.

 

Help the Organization and Get Your Water Tested or Order the Private Well Owner Guide (proceeds benefit This Organization).

 

 

 

Act 13 Grant Application Baseline Tesitng Luzerne, Lackawanna, and Columbia County Pennsylvania

Notice of Grant Application
The Pocono Northeast Resource Conservation & Development Council has submitted a grant application to the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development that could allow our organization and its partners to use financial resources from the Marcellus Legacy Fund to implement a Baseline Water Quality Testing Program in the Council’s service area. Through this grant, we hope to complete testing in Columbia, Lackawanna, and Luzerne Counties.  As it is a requirement for this grant, we are notifying you that if we are successful in obtaining the funds, we could be working within your jurisdiction.
The Marcellus Shale underlies eight of the ten counties in the Council’s service area. Most of the residents we serve are either directly or indirectly impacted by unconventional shale gas development. In addition, approximately 60% of the residents rely on private wells for their drinking water needs, putting them at increased risk. Monitoring and documenting baseline conditions is critical to not only protecting rural water sources and the environment, but also to safeguard the larger community water supply water sources.
The main elements of the project will include:
1.      Educate private well owners on baseline water quality issues;
2.      Provide free baseline water testing, conducted by a certified testing laboratory and collected by trained samplers, for approximately 200 private well owners, giving priority to those over the age of 65 or families that have a median income of less than 2 times the poverty level in our project area;
3.      Offer free assistance to review baseline testing conducted by this project or conducted by the individual private well owner or given to the private well owner within our service area;
4.      Implement a training program for samplers conducting baseline analysis to ensure the use of proper chain-of-custody, field collection, testing, and documentation, and reporting of the data;
5.      Provide assistance to all private well owners that participated in this project by providing a “non-
technical” review of the testing results explained in plain language, a free copy of  Pennsylvania Groundwater Quality: Your Private Well: What Do the Results Mean?, and conducting regional education outreach events; and
6.      The data, excluding confidential contact information, will be maintained by the certified laboratory and the Council in a spreadsheet format that can be then added to the Citizen Groundwater and Surfacewater Database or other state and regional databases.
The Pocono Northeast R C & D Council appreciates your interest and support for this project. It will provide valuable data on the status of rural wells, as well as ensure that the participants in the study will be better off with its completion. Please contact us with any questions you may have at 570-234-3577.
http://www.pnercd.org

Volunteer
We seek new people at all skill levels for a variety of programs. One thing that everyone can do is attend meetings to share ideas on improving CCGG, enabling us to better understand and address the concerns of well owners.

Everything we do began with an idea.

We realize your time is precious and the world is hectic. CCGG’s volunteers do only what they’re comfortable with. It can be a little or a lot.

For more information, please go to CCGG’s About Page or contact us.

Carbon County Groundwater Guardians is a 501(c)(3) IRS approved nonprofit, volunteer organization and your donation is tax deductible to the extent allowed by law..  Unsolicited donations are appreciated.

Help the Organization and Get Your Water Tested or Order the Private Well Owner Guide (proceeds benefit This Organization).

Pennsylvania Abandoned Mine Reclamation Conference August 2013

PA AMR Conference Seeking Sponsors & Exhibitors for 15th Anniversary Conference-August 9-10th by Robert Hughes

Are you interested in becoming a part of the longest running Pennsylvania Statewide Conference on Abandoned Mine Reclamation as we forge ahead into the future of reclamation in PA? Sponsorship at one of our convenient levels is a great way to get involved. And there are some great perks too!

The Conference will provide a forum for the dissemination of information and encourage discussions between industry, watershed groups, and decision makers that can help to further innovations in public policy, abandoned mine reclamation, remediation, and restoration of PA’s watersheds and communities impacted by AMD and abandoned mine lands. Celebrate 15 years with us in 2013! We’ve come a long way, but we still have a long way to go!

Gold Sponsor – Donate $5000 or more & you will receive:
Sponsor listing ( Placement on website, logo placement, full page logo in program booklet, placards, press releases, opening & closing remarks)

Jumbo Exhibit Area near the entrance to the most heavy traffic areas of the Conference*
3 complementary Conference registrations (please include name of registrant(s) with check)
1 Opportunity to make a presentation at the Conference

Silver Sponsor – Donate $3000 or more & you will receive:
Sponsor listing (Placement on website, logo placement, ½ page logo in program booklet, placards, press releases, opening & closing remarks)
Jumbo Exhibit Area near the hustle and bustle of the conference happenings*
2 complementary conference registrations (please include name of registrant with check)
1 Opportunity to make a presentation at the Conference

Bronze Sponsor – Donate $1000 or more & you will receive:
Sponsor listing (Placement on website, logo placement, ¼ page logo in program booklet, placards, press releases, opening & closing remarks)
Standard Exhibit Area near the hustle and bustle of the conference happenings*
1 complementary conference registration (please include name of registrant with check)

*Sponsors and Exhibitors must bring their own 10′ extension cords. Please stop by the registration table at the PA AMR Conference to find out where we have reserved space for your exhibit. You may setup from 7AM to 8:30AM on Friday and please plan to take down your exhibit by no later than 12:30PM on Saturday. Please contact Robert Hughes at 570-371-3523, rhughes@epcamr.org if you have any questions.

Please make checks payable to “EPCAMR” or use our EPCAMR Online Store for credit card payments. You may direct questions and send payments to:

Robert E. Hughes, Executive Director
EPCAMR
101 S. Main Street
Ashley, PA 18706
Phone: 570-371-3523

You can remove the one section that says posted on June 5m 2013 by Robert Hughes..if you want..the website is www.treatminewater.com

Volunteer

We seek new people at all skill levels for a variety of programs. One thing that everyone can do is attend meetings to share ideas on improving CCGG, enabling us to better understand and address the concerns of well owners.

Everything we do began with an idea.

We realize your time is precious and the world is hectic. CCGG’s volunteers do only what they’re comfortable with. It can be a little or a lot.

For more information, please go to CCGG’s About Page or contact us.

Carbon County Groundwater Guardians is a 501(c)(3) IRS approved nonprofit, volunteer organization and your donation is tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.  Help the Organization and Get Your Water Tested or Order the Private Well Owner Guide (proceeds benefit This Organiazation).

Pennsylvania May Use Coal Mine Water for Hydraulic Fracturing Senate Bill 411

INTRODUCED BY KASUNIC, YUDICHAK, SOLOBAY, WOZNIAK, BREWSTER, ARGALL, WHITE, BAKER, HUTCHINSON, ERICKSON, VULAKOVICH, VOGEL, FERLO, BOSCOLA, ALLOWAY AND DINNIMAN, FEBRUARY 4, 2013

SENATOR YAW, ENVIRONMENTAL RESOURCES AND ENERGY, AS AMENDED, FEBRUARY 12, 2013

Mine water for beneficial uses.–Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, landowners, mine operators and water pollution abatement project operators that are involved in treating mine drainage or mine pool water from a permitted mining activity site or water pollution abatement project shall not be deemed to assume legal responsibility for or to incur liability with respect to a cost, injury or damage that arises out of or occurs in connection with the use of mine drainage, mine pool water or treated mine water in connection with the hydraulic fracturing process or other development of a gas well, industrial or other water supply or other beneficial use of the water

****

Comments by Brian Oram

1. This may have some conflicting language when compared to the Oil and Gas Law and the assume liability that is associated with natural gas development. I may have missed this section, but it would be nice if the law clearly stated this did not resend current provisions and assumed liability related to exiting  Oil and Gas Law.

It does appears the assumed liability provision is limited to only the “Project Operators”- so that once the mine water leaves the site (i.e., the site where the mine water is collected or initially treated) – they, the Project Operators are no longer assumed liable for other uses beyond their control, i.e., liable for the use of the water by the Gas Company for Hydrofracturing.  (Clarification is needed)

Therefore
A. Land-owner has mine drainage on the property- they or a third party – treat the mine water and then sell or give away to a water company.
B. The water is transported to a site.
C. Industry uses the water for hydraulic fracturing. 

Think the the limit of liability is intended to only extend to A related to conyence by B and the use by C   This type of liability provision is needed because many of the parties that fit the role of A are either 501 c3, watershed groups or public private partnerships that have nothing to do with the gas company.

2. This may require baseline testing be done in these regions to include additional parameters specific to the source and around treatment project sites.
3. It is possible this may result in decreased streamflows downgradient of withdrawal points – I am not sure how the river basin commissions will evaluate and if they may consider the need for a water withdrawal permit and consumption use fees, but I would assume a consumptive water use docket with provisions for treatment and by-pass flow maybe needed.

4. I like the provisions and hopefully this will more forward the use of degraded waters for hydraulic fracturing and help clean up impacted waterways in PA.

5. I do like the provisions, but for some streams baseflow associated with mine drainage may be a significant portion of the flow and it maybe necessary to maintain some by-pass flow with treatment.

6. Hope this encourages public private partnerships to address Acid mine drainage and mine drainage.

7. Would be nice if this program could be applied indirectly to the Northern Fields –No Gas Development, but it would be great to treat and clean the mine drainage and then issue some type of credit.

8. The law looks like it could be applied to discharges and releases of brine water associated with historic oil and gas development and not just mine drainage?  (Clarification is needed)

9. I am not sure of the eligible land provision? Unless this relates to building some type of treatment structure, etc (Water pollution abatement project operator).  (Clarification is needed)

10. The exemptions near the end of the document seem reasonable – I would assume this came from Senator Yaw – Very Nice.

11. I would recommend the Senators that support this document make the necessary clarifications of the intent, but this is something that is needed.  I think this would have been a better approach then all the press releases on the topic. The goal should be to fix issues and get them resolved.   

Additional Comments
Mine Drainage and/ or Acid Mine Drainage is the result of natural discharges and legacy issues related to the mining of the anthracite and bituminous fields in Pennsylvania.

Over 4,000 miles of streams in Pennsylvania are adversely impacted by mine and/or acid mine drainage. The most cost effective treatment approaches of these problems tend to be a mixture of land-reclamation and passive treatment systems. Many watershed groups and other organizations in Pennsylvania have been active in attempting to minimize the adverse impacts of mine drainage. One main limitation to the effective management and control of these discharges is the significant capital investment to implement the reclamation process and install the passive or semi-passive remediation system, but the largest hurdle is typically the long-term cost of maintaining these systems and liability that is associated with the operations and maintenance of these systems. The Senate Bill creates an opportunity for public and private partnerships to cover the initial cost for the installation of a more rapid and active treatment system and there is then the opportunity to put in place long-term funding for a passive treatment approach.
The Senate Bill has some key liability provisions. These provisions appear to be:
1. Provisions granted to the landowners and operators of the treatment system so they are no liable for the conveyance and ultimate use of the water. This is critical, because a watershed group or small business that is treating the water only and not hauling should not be liable for the conveyance and final use. This liability should rest with the individuals and companies that are transporting and using this water.

2. The proposed bill provides limits of liability associated with downgradient stream conditions. This provision is needed because it is possible that augmenting the flow of the stream by removing mine drainage will likely decrease water levels and flow volumes, but should eliminate the long-term pollution source. Even though it is not stated in this Senate Bill, it is likely that the river basin commission would play a significant role in reviewing consumptive use permits and may require a baseflow of treated water to maintain stream temperature and flow.

Some missing parts

The bill does require more context and specific language; because it appears the bill will extend to historic oil and natural gas development areas. Therefore, it is possible that some of the sites are releasing water that contains a mixture of brine, heavy oil residues, and other fugitive emission.

The bill may not address the status of the “sludge” generated by the remediation efforts. Does this sludge have a beneficial use or is it classified as a solid waste?

The bill does not address the issue of the need for a water withdrawal permit if the water is used for a consumptive water use
There needs to be a balance on the amount of withdrawal because in special cases excess water withdrawal may induce significant surface and subsurface impacts, such as subsidence and mine fire propagation.
This activity should not be conducted in combination with efforts to produce coal-bed methane gas.

Missing provisions for bonding.

http://www.bfenvironmental.com
http://www.water-research.net/Watershed/

Support Groundwater Education in Pennsylvania and Consider Scheduling an Education Workshop for Your Community – just email bfenviro@ptd.net

Carbon County Groundwater Guardians is a 501(c)(3) IRS approved nonprofit, volunteer organization and your donation is tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.

 Carbon County Groundwater Guardians on Facebook

Save the Date – April 15th – Sewage Facilities Planning Module Webinar

DEP invites you to participate in an important upcoming webinar about Draft Technical Guidance for DEP’s review of Sewage Facilities Planning Modules for onlot sewage systems proposed in Pennsylvania’s High Quality and Exceptional Value Watersheds. 

 The proper location and management of community and individual onlot septic systems is key to safeguarding public health and Pennsylvania’s water quality resources.  The new draft technical guidance will ensure cost-effective and reasonable best management practices (BMPs) for nonpoint source control are achieved to maintain and protect water quality when reviewing sewage facilities planning modules for proposed individual or community onlot sewage systems in high quality and exceptional value watersheds. 

 During the one-hour webinar, DEP staff will describe BMPs for individual and community onlot sewage systems that can achieve nonpoint source control in High Quality and Exceptional Value waters, and review the process for selecting appropriate BMPs to achieve such control.

 The webinar will be held from 2-3 p.m., Monday April 15.  The webinar is free but registration is required.  To register, visit https://copa.webex.com/copa/onstage/g.php?t=a&d=645447507

 The Draft Technical Guidance can be found here:  http://www.elibrary.dep.state.pa.us/dsweb/Get/Document-93420/385-2208-001.pdf   Public comments regarding the Draft Technical Guidance are due to DEP May 1. 

Some Personal Thoughts on this Proposed Policy

Land-use webinar offered by Penn State Extension on Feb. 20

news.psu.edu/story/264504/2013/02/18/land-use-webinar-offered-penn-state-extension-feb-20

UNIVERSITY PARK — A Web-based seminar focusing on limitations in municipal land-use authority will be offered by Penn State Extension at noon and 7 p.m. Feb. 20.

“How Pre-emption of Zoning and Other Local Controls Impacts Planning” will provide participants with an appreciation of how state laws can impact local land use.

In the one-hour session, attorney Charles Courtney, of McNees Wallace & Nurick LLC, will explain why planners, elected officials and other interested parties should understand how certain statutes can limit municipal land-use authority.

“Although municipalities have broad land-use authority under the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code, various commonwealth statutes limit that authority in specific areas — for example the Oil and Gas Act and the Nutrient Management Act,” he said.

“Under many of these statutes, the municipality is forbidden to impose any requirement that is inconsistent with the state statute. This pre-emption can be expressly written in the statute, or it can be implied.”

Understanding the limitations in local land-use authority will help municipal officials to be better planners, Courtney noted. The webinar, which will be moderated by Neal Fogle, Penn State Extension educator based in Northumberland County, will provide that insight.

The Feb. 20 presentation is part of Extension’s Land Use Decision-Making Monthly Webinar Series, which provides information about current planning issues, land use planning tools and techniques, local regulation and community engagement. The sessions are designed to help planners, elected officials and citizens better engage in land use decision-making processes.

Upcoming webinars will cover the following topics:

–March 20: “Renewable Energy Implementation and Land Use Regulations — Is There Conflict?”

–April 17: “Developing More Effective Citizen Engagement: A How-To Guide for Community Leaders”

–May 15: “Low Impact Development and Smart Growth: How Are They Best Integrated and Utilized in Our Communities?”

A webinar held Jan. 16, “Planning in Pennsylvania: Land Use, Communities and Beyond,” was recorded and is available to registered participants for viewing.

Registration cost for the entire webinar series is $25, and registrants can watch as few or as many webinars as they like. For more information, contact Jeff Himes, extension educator based in Tioga County, at 570-724-9120 or jhimes@psu.edu, or visit http://agsci.psu.edu/land-use-webinar.

Contacts:
Chuck Gill

cdg5@psu.edu
Work Phone:
814-863-2713

Pennsylvanians want more electricity to come from renewable sources

live.psu.edu/story/60984#nw69
Thursday, August 30, 2012

There is broad support for increasing the amount of renewable energy production from sources such as wind in the state.

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — There is broad public support among Pennsylvania residents for increased renewable-energy generation, according to a study recently conducted by researchers in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences.

The research found that Pennsylvanians rate hydropower, solar electricity and wind power highest among electricity generation technologies, followed by nuclear power and natural gas. The results indicate that the average Pennsylvania household is willing to pay an extra $55 per year to increase renewable-energy production by an amount equal to 1 percent of Pennsylvania electricity consumption.

The study, “Pennsylvanians’ Attitudes Toward Renewable Energy,” was conducted by Clare Hinrichs, associate professor of rural sociology, and Richard Ready, professor of agricultural and environmental economics, with assistance from doctoral students John Eshleman and James Yoo. The project was funded by a grant from the Center for Rural Pennsylvania, a legislative agency of the Pennsylvania General Assembly.

“The dominant message that came across was that there is broad support for increasing the amount of renewable energy production in the state, and there is broad support for the state taking an active role in encouraging that,” Ready said. “The majority of Pennsylvanians support strengthening the state’s alternative-energy portfolio standard that mandates that a certain amount of electricity comes from renewable sources.”

Ready noted that researchers were surprised they did not find a single group of respondents who disagreed. Read more

New study determines states offer inadequate coal ash protection

http://www.tnonline.com/2011/aug/25/new-study-determines-states-offer-inadequate-coal-ash-protection
Thursday, August 25, 2011

A new study finds that state regulations regarding coal ash disposal are inadequate to protect public health and drinking water supplies for nearby communities. The information comes as federal regulations – the first of their kind – are under attack by a hostile Congress bent on derailing any effort to ensure strong, federally enforceable safeguards for coal ash, America’s second largest industrial waste stream.

Earthjustice and Appalachian Mountain Advocates (formerly the Appalachian Center for the Economy and the Environment) released “State of Failure: How states fail to protect our health and drinking water from toxic coal ash,” a review of state regulations in 37 states, which together comprise over 98 percent of all coal ash generated nationally. The study highlights the lack of state-based regulations for coal ash disposal and points to the 12 worst states when it comes to coal ash dumping: Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, South Carolina and Virginia.

There are currently nearly 700 coal ash ponds and hundreds of coal ash landfills in the U.S., most of which operate without adequate liners and water quality monitoring, and have been operating as such for decades. Most states do not require coal ash dumps to employ the most basic safeguards required at landfills for household garbage.

State of Failure includes detailed information on basic disposal safeguards, such as groundwater monitoring, liners, isolation of ash from the water table, and financial assurance requirements in 37 states where coal ash is currently generated and disposed.

Coal ash is the toxic remains of coal-fired power plants; enough is generated each year to fill train cars stretching from the North Pole to the South Pole. The ash contains toxic metals, including arsenic, hexavalent chromium, lead, mercury, and selenium. Coal ash is commonly dumped into unlined and unmonitored ponds and landfills. There are well over a hundred documented sites where coal ash has contaminated drinking water or surface water.

The EPA is currently considering a federal proposal to regulate coal ash that includes two options: the first option would classify coal ash as hazardous waste, requiring water quality monitoring, liners and the phase out of dangerous “wet” storage of coal ash, such as the pond that collapsed in Kingston, Tennessee in 2008. The second option would continue to allow states to inadequately regulate coal ash by establishing only guidelines that states are free to ignore. Within the industry, coal ash generators support the weaker option. The EPA, under pressure from industry, has postponed finalizing the coal ash standard until 2012.

But coal ash allies in the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives are not content with delay. Two bills currently moving through the House seek to undermine any efforts by the EPA to set federal enforceable safeguards for coal ash disposal. Both bills require EPA to let the states – and the states alone – decide how to regulate ash, with little federal oversight.

“This report proves unequivocally that state programs, without federal mandates or oversight, are a recipe for disaster when it comes to protecting our health and our environment,” said Lisa Evans, senior legislative counsel at Earthjustice and a co-author of the study. “Strong, federally enforceable safeguards are needed to guarantee that our drinking water remains free of arsenic, lead, mercury and other toxic metals found in coal ash. The myth that states are doing a good job protecting Americans from coal ash is busted.”

“The problem with relying on state regulations is that they are not designed for the unique problems of coal ash generally and coal ash impoundments particularly,” said Mike Becher, the Equal Justice Works Fellow at Appalachian Mountain Advocates. “While many coal ash impoundments are regulated by state dam safety programs, these programs were developed to deal with dams holding back water, not toxic substances. State solid waste programs, on the other hand, are not used to dealing with large impoundments and the threat of a catastrophic dam failure like the one seen in Tennessee in 2008.”