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    November 21, 2022 - States News Service


      The following information was released by the Sierra Club:

      Today, EPA denied ArcLight Capital's request to continue dumping toxic coal ash waste into unlined storage ponds at the General James M. Gavin Power Plant in Cheshire, Ohio. EPA's denial was based both on multiple violations of coal ash rules at Gavin and ArcLight's failure to demonstrate that its plan for replacing the unlined ponds was as fast as technically feasible, as required by regulation. ArcLight must cease placing coal ash into its existing ponds within 135 days after the denial is published in the Federal Register.

      This final determination, under EPA's Coal Combustion Residuals Part A Rule, follows the agency's preliminary decision to deny the Gavin power plant's application for an extension to continue dumping wet coal ash in January 2022, and is the first in what is expected to be a series of determinations as to whether coal-fired power plants in several states should be allowed to continue using unlined ponds while they construct new storage facilities consistent with the 2015 Coal Combustion Residuals rule.

      Coal ash waste is filled with some of the deadliest known toxic chemicals, including heavy metals like arsenic, lead, mercury, and chromium. For decades, coal ash has been dumped into giant pits or ponds, where toxic chemicals have leaked into the water, contaminated soil, and poisoned air.

      As part of its evaluation of ArcLight's extension request, EPA found that coal ash at the Fly Ash Reservoir at Gavin is sitting in more than four stories of groundwater and that Gavin had no plausible plans to prevent the flow of groundwater through tons of toxic coal ash; that Gavin lacked adequate groundwater monitoring networks at an inactive pond and landfill at the site; and that excessive levels of boron, calcium, chloride, and fluoride in groundwater around the plant were likely caused by Gavin's coal ash.

      In response to today's announcement, Holly Bender, Sierra Club Senior Director of Energy Campaigns, said:

      "We are encouraged Administrator Regan is following through on his commitment to protect communities from toxic coal ash, which endangers vulnerable communities. As EPA considers final determinations on applications from a long list of other coal plants that have asked to keep dumping ash well beyond regulatory deadlines, we urge the EPA to deny those applications, while also moving expeditiously to finalize rules that can more quickly and effectively address harmful coal ash pollution that puts too many families living near coal plants at risk of cancer, heart disease, stroke and other health problems."

      Neil Waggoner, Senior Campaign Representative for Sierra Club's Beyond Coal Campaign in Ohio, said:

      "The Gavin plant is infamous in Ohio for polluting our air and water, and for its destruction of the Cheshire community. EPA was right in their decision to take action and force Gavin to start cleaning up its act and end the practice of wet ash handling. Unfortunately, EPA's final decision won't go into effect until almost two years after the original deadline for Gavin to stop dumping coal ash in its old, inadequate facilities. Gavin's absentee private equity owners have essentially been given two years to make those ponds even more toxic.

      "Moving forward, EPA must act more quickly to issue final decisions for those plants that sought extensions from the April 2021 deadline to stop using unlined ponds, and prevent those plants that are violating federal regulations from placing yet more toxic coal ash in unlined ponds. At Gavin, EPA should enforce the many violations it has identified in coal ash handling and storage around the facility to ensure Gavin's private equity owners fully retrofit and clean up the plant's unlined ponds to stop any further groundwater contamination. It's clear Gavin, and other plants like it, need to be on a retirement course and not continue to create mountains of toxic coal ash waste."

      About the Sierra Club

      The Sierra Club is America's largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with millions of members and supporters. In addition to protecting every person's right to get outdoors and access the healing power of nature, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action.


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