EPA: Coal Ash Not Hazardous Waste

Dec 20, 2014

A US Fish and Wildlife Service agent responding to the coal ash spill on the Dan River earlier this year.
Credit USFWS

The Environmental Protection Agency came out today with its first-ever regulations for coal ash.

The new rules treat coal ash like regular household garbage, instead of hazardous waste, as many environmental groups wanted. The EPA said the record did not support a hazardous-waste classification.

Coal ash is the byproduct when coal is burned for electricity. It contains arsenic, selenium, and other materials that can be harmful to humans.

The new EPA rules boost monitoring at current sites and require companies to make testing results public. But the regulations do not cover sites at shuttered power plants, like the one involved in the Dan River spill in February.

The EPA rules are good news for Duke Energy. A hazardous-waste classification would have added billions of dollars to the cleanup costs to its 14 sites across North Carolina.