A new report released Thursday from a group called the Environmental Integrity Project makes a claim that may sound rather ominous for anyone who lives near a coal power plant. It suggests that the groundwater around nearly every coal plant in Texas is contaminated with hazardous chemicals.
The report looked at industry data from Texas that only became available for the first time in 2018, thanks to an Obama-era rule. It found that not a single coal plant that stores its leftover “coal ash” on site could claim clean groundwater. Lisa Ebans is a lawyer with the group Earthjustice, and was involved in the report. She says coal ash contains toxic metals and chemicals that can leak out into ground and surface water.
“State law currently exempts from regulation all coal ash disposed on site at the power plant. But on site, as defined in Texas, is anywhere within 50 miles of the plant,” Ebans says.
In fact, right now the report says the contamination doesn’t appear to break any laws. Though new federal coal ash rules are expected to strengthen regulation.