Residents Urge EPA to Pull Approval of TVA Coal Ash Disposal in Alabama

Date: December 28, 2009

Source: News Room

Residents around Alabama's Arrowhead landfill, near Union, are urging EPA to rescind its determination that the landfill is an acceptable location for disposing of more than 3 million cubic yards of coal ash from the massive Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) spill last December. The residents filed a Dec. 7 petition under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation & Liability Act (CERCLA) asking EPA to rescind its "determination of acceptability" it issued Jan. 16. The problem is that EPA recently delayed its decision on how to regulate coal ash, so it is unclear whether it will be treated as a hazardous waste or non-hazardous waste or some combination thereof depending on how it is handled or whether it is beneficially reused. Industry officials have argued that EPA's approval of the site in the first place evidences its position that coal ash is a non-hazardous waste. Conversely, the residents argue that "such coal ash contains constituents such as arsenic, cadmium, chromium, copper, lead, mercury, nickel, selenium and zinc which are 'hazardous substances' as defined by CERCLA," according to the residents' CERCLA petition to the agency. Moreover, the residents argue that odors from the landfill indicate that it is operating as a prohibited "open dump" in violation of the Solid Waste Disposal Act. Perry County Associates, which operates the landfill, dismisses the claim since state officials have certified the landfill is in compliance.

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