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EPA report details harm done by coal ash

Oct. 28, 2009 at 11:57 PM   |   Comments

WASHINGTON, Oct. 28 (UPI) -- Coal ash released into waterways has killed fish and other wildlife, damaged their reproductive capacity and contaminated wells, U.S. regulators say.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released a 230-page report on coal ash Tuesday, The Nashville Tennessean reported. The report comes 10 months after a spill of 1.1 billion gallons of coal ash slurry at the Kingston power plant operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority.

The EPA is considering labeling coal ash as toxic waste, a move the industry opposes.

Mary Anne Hitt, deputy director of the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal Campaign, is lobbying for strong federal regulation of coal ash.

"We applaud the EPA for addressing coal's toxic legacy head-on, for delving deeper and completing this long-overdue investigation," Hitt said in a statement.

The toxins in coal ash include arsenic, mercury and selenium. Arsenic and selenium can kill fish and cause reproductive problems when it does not kill them. Arsenic is a suspected carcinogen in humans and selenium damages human nervous systems. Mercury can cause kidney damage in humans and animals.

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