WILMINGTON, N.C. (CN) – An electric company spilled coal ash from an unlined storage pond this week, as the U.S. EPA considered “whether to regulate toxic coal ash as the hazardous substance that it is,” the Sierra Club said. The spill from Progress Energy’s Sutton Electric Plant near Wilmington is 8 feet deep and 22 feet wide and full of dangerous chemicals, according to the Sierra Club.
“Coal ash, the byproduct left over after coal is burned, contains a long list of dangerous toxins, including arsenic, selenium, lead and mercury, which have been linked to organ disease, cancer, respiratory illness, neurological damage and developmental problems,” the Sierra Club said in a statement.
“Living near a coal ash site is significantly more dangerous than smoking a pack of cigarettes a day, according to a risk assessment done by EPA, and people living near unlined coal ash ponds can have a 1 in 50 risk of cancer. EPA recently concluded a series of public hearings to receive input on the proposed rule to regulate toxic coal ash.”
A December 2008 spill from a coal-fired power plant in Tennessee, dumped more than a billion gallons of coal ash into and around the city of Harriman. It’s one of more than 600 coal ash dumps around the country, the Sierra Club says.