Coal Ash Waste - In Our Backyard
0n December 22, 2008 a 'storage pond' dam broke in Harriman, TN flooding the Tennessee River Valley with over 5.4 million cubic yards of coal ash sludge. What wasn't known at the time of this man-made disaster is how many more Coal Ash dump sites exist in the U.S.A. Thanks to a Freedom of Information Act request by the Environmental Integrity Project, Earthjustice and the Sierra Club the EPA released a list of 584 coal ash dump sites across the country. 35 states, including New Mexico, have coal ash dumps containing arsenic, lead, mercury and other toxins.
The EPA list details the owner, location, size, contents and hazard potential of the coal ash dumps. There are 5 coal ash sites in New Mexico owned by the Arizona Public Service Co. associated with the Four Corners Power Plant located near Fruitland, NM. Two of these coal ash ponds have a significant hazard potential and were last inspected by the EPA in October of 2007. There are 4 more coal ash sites near Prewitt, NM owned by Tri-State G & T Assn Inc., one of which has a significant hazard potential.
New Mexico isn't unique with our dirty coal produced toxic waste. Our neighbors in Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Oklahoma and Texas all have many coal ash dumps of their own. Wherever coal is used to produce electricity it also produces hazardous waste that must be dealt with. Here in the Southwest a majority of the electricity we use is generated by burning coal.
So, here's one more reason to use electricity as efficiently as possible, it reduces the generation of toxic coal waste in our own back yard.
EPA List of 584 coal ash dump sites (see Page 4 & 13 for NM sites)