Protecting Our Water and Health from Coal Ash
Nearly every major river in the Southeast has one or more unlined, leaking pits on its banks filled with water and holding coal ash from power plants. Containing millions of tons of toxin-laden waste, these pits are unlined and have leaked arsenic, mercury, thallium, selenium, and other contaminants into the rivers and the underlying groundwater for decades.
Putting a Stop to Years of Pollution
SELC is in federal and state courts to force utilities to clean up their unlined, leaking coal ash waste sites and protect our clean water 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 on behalf of local citizen groups.
In North Carolina, our lawsuits have produced cleanup commitments at eight Duke Energy sites, and SELC continues to represent a number of citizen groups to require the clean up or recycling of coal ash at all 14 of Duke Energy’s leaking, unlined coal ash sites across 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 clean up all of their leaking, unlined coal ash pits 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 three different Dominion Virginia Power sites: the Bremo site on the James River, 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 its dangerous coal ash storage sites on 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 2015 did the EPA put its coal ash rule into effect. This rule establishes only minimum protections, so we will continue to enforce stronger U.S. 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 communities 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
Coal Ash Cleanup Victory in Virginia
Southern Environmental Law Center’s Statement in Response to TVA’s Retirement of the Bull Run and Paradise Fossil Plants
Citizens Demand Action in North Carolina as Virginia Moves Ahead with Coal Ash Cleanups
Governor Northam Facilitates Stunning Reversal on Coal Ash Clean Up
Virginia leaders introduce law to end Dominion’s coal ash pollution
Georgia Power Confirms Coal Ash Ponds Too Close to Groundwater, Fail to Meet Federal Siting Restrictions
Duke Energy Filings Confirm Groundwater Pollution at Coal Ash Sites in Carolinas
Memphis Groups Call For Shelby County Health Department To Revoke Five TVA Water Well Permits Under
Alabama Utilities Confirm Pollution of Groundwater, Stability Problems with Unlined Coal Ash Pits
Virginia turning a corner on coal ash cleanup
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
James River Association
Upper and Lower James Riverkeepers