First federal standards on power plant coal ash expected to avoid 'hazardous' label

EnergyAssociated Press

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.