North Carolina leads the nation in the number of toxic ash waste pits at coal-burning power plants, according to a new report by a coalition of environmental groups.
The state is home to at least six coal ash pits that store dangerous levels of arsenic, lead, mercury and other toxins, according to the report issued today by Earthjustice and Environmental Integrity Project. Only Pennsylvania has as many sites with dangerous accumulations of waste from coal-burning power plants, the report said.
The groups are urging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to step up enforcement at the sites, which have operated for decades out of public eye until a massive spill in December 2008 released tons of toxic sludge in Tennessee.
"The EPA has never gone out and actively investigate these sites," said Jeff Stant, director of the Coal Combustion Waste Initiative at the Environmental Integrity Project. "The delay is unconscionable when there's this much data showing this much damage."