EPA releases electric utility plans to improve safety of coal ash impoundments (2/5)
“EPA is committed to making communities across the country safer places to live,” said Mathy Stanislaus, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response. “The information we are releasing today shows that we continue to make progress in our efforts to prevent future coal ash spills.”
Since May 2009, EPA has been conducting on-site assessments of coal ash impoundments and ponds at electric utilities. EPA provides copies of the structural integrity assessment reports to each facility, and requests the facilities implement the reports’ recommendations and provide their plans for taking action. The action plans released today address recommendations from assessments of 43 impoundments at 22 facilities. Many of these facilities have already begun implementing EPA’s recommendations.
In addition to the action plans released today, EPA is also releasing assessment reports on the structural integrity of an additional 40 coal ash impoundments at 16 facilities across the country. Most of the 40 impoundments have a rating of “high” or “significant” hazard potential, indicating the potential for harm in the event of impoundment failure. A high hazard potential rating means if an impoundment fails, it can cause loss of human life. A significant hazard potential rating means impoundment failure can cause economic loss, environmental damage, or damage to infrastructure.
The assessment reports have been completed by firms, under contract to EPA, who are experts in the field of dam integrity, and reflect the best professional judgment of those engineering firms. A draft of these reports has been reviewed by the facilities and the states for factual accuracy. The comments on the draft reports are also posted on EPA’s Web site. EPA is continuing to review the reports and technical recommendations, and is working with the facilities to ensure that the recommendations are implemented in a timely manner. Should facilities fail to take sufficient measures, EPA will take additional action, if the circumstances warrant. EPA will continue to provide additional information to the public on the impoundments and facilities as it becomes available.