Washington, DC – Today, Sierra Club launched a new advertising campaign entitled “Thirsty?” that urges the Environmental Protection Agency to put strong coal ash water pollution protections in place this year. This new campaign, which contains physical advertisements on metro trains in the Washington DC Metro system’s Orange Line coupled with an online buy in DC and North Carolina, comes as a response to the multiple coal-related pollution incidents to occur in the last three months.
“Americans deserve water we can drink, not water that makes us sick,” said Mary Anne Hitt, Director of Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign. “The West Virginia water crisis, the Duke Energy coal ash spill and the TVA coal ash disaster of 2008 all underscore the inadequacy of current state and federal safeguards. Now is the time to act swiftly in order to protect our health and waterways from coal’s toxic legacy.”
Coal-fired power plants are one of America's biggest water polluters, dumping more toxins into rivers and streams than any other industry in the United States. Every year, the nation's coal plants produce 140 million tons of coal ash pollution -- and much of that material is stored in unlined ponds and uncovered piles, leaking heavy metals like mercury, lead and arsenic into local waterways.
“After years of delay,” Hitt continued, “including significant opposition from companies like Duke Energy and LG&E, responsible for the two most recent coal ash spills, EPA is now under a court order to finish the coal ash safeguards this year. We urge the EPA to move quickly to issue strong, enforceable protections that end all dangerous wet storage of coal ash, permanently removing the threat of coal ash spills. We can't afford another Dan River disaster.”
“The EPA must finalize robust protections under the Clean Water Act and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act,” Hitt concluded. “This includes safeguards for coal water pollution, coal ash and hazardous chemical sites, in order to deal with the dangerous pollution from the life cycle of coal. American water security is at risk, and the tragedies of the last three months show that we need comprehensive clean water protections that ensure our drinking water is safe and our rivers and streams are no longer the dumping ground for industry pollution.”