Environmentalists and industry experts expect the first federal standards for waste generated from coal burned for electricity to treat the ash more like household garbage than a hazardous material.
The EPA is expected to issue a rule Friday, ending a six-year effort that began after a massive spill at a Tennessee power plant in 2008. Since then, the EPA has documented coal ash waste sites tainting hundreds of waterways and underground aquifers in numerous states.
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Environmentalists wanted coal ash to be classified as hazardous, which would put Washington in charge of enforcement. The coal industry fought back, citing costs and a damping effect on the recycling market. About 40 percent is reused.
By putting it in same category as trash, citizens and states would enforce the standards.