(06/30/2009)
By Bob Weaver

The government has kept secret the location of coal ash storage ponds around the US, until this week.

The Environmental Protection Agency has now made public a list of 26 communities in 10 states, including West Virginia, where residents face a potential threat similar to one that flooded a neighborhood in Tennessee last year.

They say the risk factor is based on the location of the slurry ponds next to populated areas.

Coal ash is a product of burning coal and is kept in liquid or slurry form in containment ponds or dams.

West Virginia has four risky facilities located at Willow Island, St. Albans, Moundsville and New Haven.

The best known slurry pond is adjacent to the John Amos power plant, a facility that is expected to majorly increase electric production to energize the giant PATH project which is being built to supply power to eastern USA.

Slurry storage and smokestack pollution from coal burning is being questioned by other agencies worried about the environment, in addition to environmentalists and West Virginia residents.

The EPA is currently inspecting coal ash sites located near communities to make certain they are structurally sound.

Last December, a coal ash pond broke near Kingston, Tennessee, sending 5 million cubic yards of ash and sludge across more than 300 acres, destroying or damaging 40 homes.

That incident prompted a review of the safety of such storage ponds that hold the coal-burning waste byproduct near large coal-burning power plants.

The storage ponds hold fly ash, bottom ash, coal slag and flue gas residues that contain toxic metals such as arsenic, selenium, cadmium, lead and mercury.


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