EPA to rule on whether coal ash is hazardous - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

EPA to rule on whether coal ash is hazardous

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LANSING (KWWL) -

Coal ash could be affecting the quality and safety of your drinking water.

And Friday, the Environmental Protection Agency will rule whether coal ash is hazardous or not.

Coal ash is the product left behind after the coal is used to make energy.

Some of the coal ash comes out of the plant and sits in a pond until the sludge settles. That ash is then taken to a landfill.

Some coal ash is captured immediately and recycled, which is known as fly ash. Contractors use that to help make concrete and dry wall.

But critics of coal ash are concerned that it could contaminate water supplies. Coal ash carries both arsenic and mercury.

33 states currently have coal ash ponds, including Iowa. Alliant Energy has a plant in Lansing.

Although the threat of disaster is real, people in Lansing have different opinions.

Mike Conway, owner of Milty's Restaurant and Bar, says he's not concerned.

"Not at all, actually. Not for this area," he said. "We have a good amount of employees, and services incorporated that actually test the water on a regular basis. So, we've never really had to worry, I guess."

John Verdon, a retired science teacher and former president of Friends of Pool 9, a group aimed at keeping the area of the Mississippi River clean, says he's concerned about the potential for contamination.

"Anything that might contaminate the water supply, or contaminate the Mississippi is a concern, could be a life threatening situation," he said. "Even though we have a 100 foot well right here where we're living, we are concerned about contamination and infiltration into the aquifer."

The EPA will announce it's decision Friday, and it could be a costly one. They say it'll cost $1.5 billion to regulate the industry if they label coal ash hazardous, compared to $600 million if not.

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