Utah’s coal ash legacy

Coal ash is the nation’s largest waste stream of hazardous substances, totaling 121 million tons last year, most of it generated an electrical generating power stations. Although ash, laded with toxic heavy metals, poses a threat to the environment, this wast is not well regulated and exempt from many rules that apply to most dangerous waste.

Ash long stored near Utah power plants is contaminating nearby water resources, environmental groups allege. According to a letter HEAL Utah sent to PacifiCorp, Utah’s largest utility, its Huntington Power Plant is illegally impounding water that flows from two canyons and picks up dangerous pollutants found in coal ash and other combustion residues.Huntington


Photo by Brian Maffly.
PacifiCorp’s Huntingon Power Plant in central Utah landfills millions of tons of coal ash on site. Runoff from these landfills is used to irrigate the “research” fields pictured here on the banks of Huntington Creek, according to report by HEAL Utah.

“They botched the disposal operation from the start. They throw the waste into unlined landfills that have leaked all over the place,” says attorney Richard Webster of the nonprofit law firm Public Justice. “They have a number of [state] permits in place that should have addressed this issue. Instead of enforcing these conditions, the state allowed them to move the contamination around.”

The utility contends the HEAL allegations are the based on incorrect assumptions.

Brian Maffly reports in the Salt Lake Tribune


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