Coal Ash Waste Dusts Neighborhoods; Residents Fear Contamination from Toxins Linked to Cancer

This story shares how one dream home became a nightmare in a rural farming community in Pennsylvania after the owner's well water showed high traces of arsenic. This former nursing home - which was purchased by FirstEnergy Corporation for the company’s proposed expansion project - overlooks the Little Blue Run waste ash dump. The chemicals give it a blue tint.

John Reed's property is 900 meters upwind from a 526-hectare industrial waste pond called Little Blue Run. Since 1975, First Energy Corporation has pumped three million tons of scrubber waste - including coal ash - from the local power plant into Little Blue each year.

Lisa Marcucci, an outreach worker in Pennsylvania for the Environmental Integrity Project, contributed to a new report on the nation's contaminated coal ash sites called "In Harms Way."

She says Little Blue Run was singled out as one of the worst among 39 sites in 22 states. Environmental advocates from Environmental Integrity Project, the  Sierra Club and Earth Justice document each site with records from public files. In the case of Little Blue, According to Marcucci, the company's own records show that - in 2007 and again this year - Little Blue had 10 monitoring wells that spiked pretty high levels for arsenic.Reed believes her son has reason to worry because "arsenic is poison." The toxins in coal ash have been linked to cancer, organ failure and other serious health problems.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed two regulatory options. One would label coal ash a hazardous waste, subject to strict federal rules. The other would put coal ash under the same EPA category as household trash and allow states to govern compliance.

Read full article by Rosanne Skirble.