Monday, October 5, 2009

Is Coal Ash Toxic?

I must admit that I am not one to usually watch the news. However last night as my husband and I were channel surfing (we only have 20 channels, not much to surf) we came across a 60 minutes report on Coal Ash. I had never even heard of coal ash prior to last night let alone know there were any toxic concerns with it. It was interesting and disturbing. As I watched pictures of the coal ash bubbling out of the ground like lava near homes and INTO homes (see picture to left), I was sick to my stomach. There is huge debate on whether its toxic or not and since I just learned about it I really can't weigh in too much. But my thought it, what if it IS really toxic? These poor people. At least the EPA is currently doing a study on it and say that by the end of the year they will make a decision on whether or not it should be labeled as hazardous material. But I have to wonder if their decision will be influenced by lobbyists from utility companies.

I'd love to hear any thoughts on this, from either side.

Click here to watch the quick video.


  1. and people wonder why autism is sky rocketing - they are shoving these toxic materials into products to get rid of them and then playing dumb.

    As a mother of an autistic child I have always felt there is an environmental trigger that has not yet been exposed.

    I was glad 60 mins did the show last night to get people thinking about these things,..

  2. This is what I was thinking too! They are talking about all the elevated levels of heavy metals in this stuff and I am wondering how come this hasn't already been labeled as toxic or hazardous waste!

  3. The reality is that a majority of electricity in the us comes from coal. So the people that live in areas where coal is mined and burned in power plants pay the environmental price for providing electricity for the rest of the country. Coal companies tend to have a lot of power and money and that is what talks.
    Coal ash can be high in various heavy metals and selenium. Depends on what is in the coal that is burned.

  4. I would think you are right about being swayed y lobbyists.
    and I would tend to think that no way is that stuff clean.

    Plus when it starts eating/burning everything it it's path... that can't be clean!

  5. Marianna,

    I am a great fan of 60 Minutes because they present stories like this one. I too wasn't aware of this issue. It is especially disconcerting because we are new residents of TN and coming from California, a more eco-friendly state, there have been a few eye opening situations; this one included. In all of its beauty (TN), it is amazing how much is overlooked here in regards to the environment. You can truly see that money DOES scream!

    Along w/the potential health issues, I can't imagine having to move from a place I planned to call home, let alone affording to do so (like some of the lakefront owners did - minus one), along w/loosing the money invested in the property.

    Why is it taking the government so long to identify the residuals of this process as toxic/hazardous waste? Coal has been used for years. Whether it is or not (but I’m sure we already know), something should have been learned by now. It will be interesting to learn what their findings are once the report is done. It will also be interesting to see how long it takes them to respond after the study has been completed. Not toxic? Let’s see how many of the researchers would come for a night of dinner prepared using the same water from these affected areas.


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