Protecting Our Water and Health from Coal Ash
Nearly every major river in the Southeast has one or more lagoons on its banks holding slurries of coal ash from power plants. Containing hundreds of thousands of tons of toxin-laden waste, these pools are often unlined and have leaked arsenic, mercury, thallium, selenium, and other contaminants into the rivers and the underlying groundwater for years, if not decades.
Putting a Stop to Years of Pollution
SELC is using its law and policy skills to force our region’s utilities to clean up their waste sites and store coal ash in ways that protect water quality and people's health. When state and federal governments did not act following a devastating 2008 spill in Kingston, TN, we began enforcing the law ourselves.
In North Carolina, our lawsuits have produced cleanup commitments at seven Duke Energy sites, and SELC continues to represent a number of groups to require clean up at all 14 of Duke Energy’s leaking coal ash sites throughout the state.
In South Carolina, a combination of legal action and public pressure from SELC prompted all three of the state’s major utilities to begin a significant cleanup to clean up leaking coal ash lagoons on South Carolina’s rivers - a historic accomplishment for clean water in South Carolina.
In Virginia, we uncovered decades of coal ash pollution leaking from two different Dominion Virginia Power sites: the Possum Point Power Plant along the Potomac River, and the Chesapeake Energy Center along the Elizabeth River. SELC is working to make sure Dominion is held responsible for cleaning up these waterways.
In Tennessee, we filed a lawsuit against Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) for coal ash at the Gallatin Plant polluting the Cumberland River, which provides drinking water for 1.2 million residents downstream.
Advocating Tougher Standards
Despite the dangers revealed by the catastrophic Kingston spill in 2008 and the 2014 Dan River spill in NC, only in October 2015 will the EPA put into place long-awaited federal coal ash protections. This rule establishes only a bare minimum of protection, so we will continue to enforce stronger federal and state clean water and anti-pollution laws to protect rivers and communities from the dangers of coal ash.
Is There a Coal Ash Waste Site Near You?
To help Southerners find out more about risks to their communities, SELC and its partners launched SoutheastCoalAsh.org, a website that provides an interactive map and database of 100 coal ash impoundments.
This Case Affects
Attorneys on Case
Court rejects Dominion’s motion to dismiss coal ash lawsuit
Test results confirm TVA’s coal ash leaking into Cumberland River and impacting drinking water
Conservation Groups Challenge NC Environmental Agency’s Sweetheart Settlement with Duke Energy over Widespread Coal Ash Contamination
Press Statement on Sutton Groundwater Fine Settlement
South Carolina Utilities Remove over 1 Million Tons of Coal Ash
Press Statement on U.S. House of Representatives’ Vote to Weaken Federal Coal Ash Protections
Citizens Groups Ask Court to Order Cleanup of Seven of 14 Duke Energy N.C. Coal Ash Sites
Duke Energy to Clean Up Robinson, S.C., Coal Ash after Conservation Groups Disclose Contamination at the Site
Statement from the Southern Environmental Law Center on Federal Bill to Strip Coal Ash Protections
Conservation Groups File Federal Lawsuit Against Tenn. Valley Authority (TVA) Over Coal Ash Pollution at Gallatin Plant
Cape Fear Riverwatch
Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation
Dan River Basin Association
Neuse Riverkeeper Foundation
Potomac Riverkeeper, Inc.
Roanoke River Basin Foundation
Southern Alliance for Clean Energy
Tennessee Clean Water Network
Tennessee Scenic Rivers Association
Winyah Rivers Foundation
Dan River Basin Association
Coastal Conservation League
Save Our Saluda