Fifty-four coal-burning power plants being proposed across the United States would produce nearly 18 million tons of waste each year, including toxic metals, according to a new analysis by the nonprofit Natural Resources Defense Council.
Nearly 130 million tons of coal waste from existing plants already is being produced annually, most of which is disposed of in largely unregulated landfills, ponds and other locations, posing public health and environmental risks, the group warns. Concern about coal waste arose after December 22, 2008, when a coal ash containment dike failed at the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Kingston Fossil Plant releasing about 5.4 million cubic yards of ashy sludge over nearly 400 acres. TVA’s Kingston Fossil Plant is located on the Emory River portion of Watts Bar Reservoir, close to where the Clinch and Tennessee Rivers meet near Kingston, Tennessee.
The new NRDC analysis shows that proposed coal plants would produce more than 18,000 tons annually of toxic metals – like arsenic, mercury, lead, and other toxic substances. The toxic metals that are often found in coal waste can pose serious health risks to people, especially children, including cancer, birth defects, reproductive problems, damage to the nervous system and kidneys, and learning disabilities.
Find more info at the National Resources Defense Council.