: News

Metro Area Residents Jump Into Coal Ash Fight

Play associated audio

By Sabri Ben-Achour

The Environmental Protection Agency is considering revamping the way it regulates coal ash and is holding public hearings to get input from the public. People have come to testify from as far away as Puerto Rico, and it's of particular concern to our area as well.

Coal ash is the byproduct of coal fired electricity,cinders basically, and it contains significant amounts of heavy metals including Arsenic and Mercury. It's largely been left up to states to regulate it, and environmentalists say that's been disastrous.

"It is getting into the drinking water, people are drinking this stuff, and what's equally important-it's getting into our rivers," says Vernice Miller Travis, vice chair of the Maryland Commission on Environmental Justice.

She points to Gambrills, Maryland where wells were contaminated with metals from coal ash disposal sites after Baltimore Gas and Electric dumped coal ash in an unlined quarry. Brandywine Maryland is suing Mirant Power over groundwater contamination.

"We need EPA to have the strongest regulatory tools possible to regulate coal ash," she says.

But to do that, the EPA would have to re-classify coal ash as "special waste," basically, hazardous waste. Thomas Adams, with the American Coal Ash Association, says that would stop people from recycling coal ash in cement for example, and instead encourage them to put it in landfills.

"The hazardous waste label we believe will stigmatize these products and affect the market's acceptance of these products," says Adams.

The EPA has not said when it expects to make a final decision.


Far From 'Infinitesimal': A Mathematical Paradox's Role In History

It seems like a simple question: How many parts can you divide a line into? The troublesome answer was square at the root of two of Europe's greatest social crises.

Soup to Nuts, Restaurants Smoke It All

While you won't find cigarettes in restaurants anymore, some smoking isn't banned. It's not just meat, either; it's hot to smoke just about anything edible.
WAMU 88.5

Virginia Remains At Odds With Feds On Medicaid Expansion

Lawmakers in Virginia continue to resist the $9.6 billion Medicaid expansion on offer from the federal government as part of the Affordable Care Act.


Watch For The Blind Lets You Feel Time Passing

A new watch allows the blind to feel time on their wrists. Designer Hyungsoo Kim tells NPR's Wade Goodwyn his watch allows users to tell time accurately without revealing their disabilities.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.