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  Administration Plans New Regulations on Coal-Ash Ponds
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ContributorArmyDem 
Last EditedArmyDem  Mar 08, 2009 07:53pm
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CategoryNews
MediaNewspaper - New York Times
News DateSunday, March 8, 2009 03:00:00 AM UTC0:0
DescriptionBy SHAILA DEWAN
Published: March 7, 2009

The Obama administration will propose new regulations governing coal combustion waste by the end of the year, and will act immediately to prevent accidents like the release in December of more than a billion gallons of coal ash that smothered 300 acres in eastern Tennessee and choked nearby waterways, a senior Environmental Protection Agency official said.

The spill, at the Kingston Fossil Plant operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority near Knoxville, brought renewed attention to the agency’s failure to live up to a promise in 2000 to issue regulations for coal ash, which contains toxins like arsenic, lead and mercury.

“We’re committing to develop a regulatory proposal for comment by the end of this calendar year,” said the senior official, Matthew Hale, the director of the agency’s Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery.

Mr. Hale said the agency was deciding whether to regulate the waste as hazardous or nonhazardous. In 2000, it deemed coal ash to be nonhazardous, but better pollution controls that have kept toxins from spewing into the air have left the solid wastes from coal plants, which is mostly ash, more poisonous.

The E.P.A. has also developed improved tests that show more toxins leaching from the ash into groundwater than previously thought.

In the short term, the agency will seek to prevent spills like the one at the Kingston plant, where the wall retaining a pile of ash 55 feet high ruptured, destroying nearby homes and choking waterways with a toxic sludge.
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